Buffalo Bills Cheerleaders Suspend Operations After Lawsuit

Image: Buffalo Bills Cheerleaders Suspend Operations After Lawsuit 2012 file photo of the Buffalo Jills cheerleaders perform.

Friday, 25 Apr 2014 02:37 PM

By Ken Mandel

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The Buffalo Bills cheerleaders, known as the Buffalo Jills, face an uncertain future after their management company suspended operations through the end of the coming season.

"I can confirm that I have suspended all Jills activities until further notice," Stephanie Mateczun, president of SteJon Productions, wrote in an email to WGRZ-TV. "I cannot elaborate any further at this time."

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The suspension comes amid a lawsuit filed by five former cheerleaders against SteJon and Citadel Broadcasting, which previously operated the Jills. The lawsuit claims the cheerleaders weren't paid in accordance with New York State minimum wage laws "for their work on game day and at community events."

The cheerleaders allege they weren't paid for hundreds of hours for practices and appearances and that they occasionally worked under humiliating and degrading conditions.

Frank Dolce, the lawyer representing the ex-cheerleaders, told WGRZ-TV that he was surprised to see that activities would be suspended.

"It was never our intent to stop the Jills from operating, but to send a message to encourage proper behavior," Dolce told WGRZ. "Every single plaintiff wants the Jills organization to thrive and move forward, but to do so in a proper and responsible way."

Citing the lawsuit, The Associated Press reported that the Jills aren't paid for games, practices and most of the 20-35 appearances they are required to make each season.

Additionally, the women must pay $650 for their uniforms and aren't reimbursed for travel or other expenses.

The Jills aren't the first set of cheerleaders to sue their teams. In January, the Oakland Raiders were sued by current and former performers for wage theft and other unfair labor practices.

A month later, Cincinnati Bengals "Ben-Gals" cheerleader Alexa Brenneman sued the team, claiming that she earned $855 for working more than 300 hours during the 2013 season, according to CBS Sports. That comes out to about $2.85 per hour.

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