TIME

Buffalo Jills Suspend Cheer Activities Following Lawsuit

Kansas City Chiefs v Buffalo Bills
Tom Szczerbowski—Getty Images

The Jills cheerleading squad of the Buffalo Bills have suspended their activities this season just days after five former cheerleaders announced a lawsuit over claims of poor treatment and low wages because they were classified as independent contractors

The Buffalo Bills’ sidelines may be silent this season: The football team’s cheerleaders, called the “Buffalo Jills,” have suspended their activities after they filed a lawsuit over poor wages and treatment.

Stephanie Mateczun, president of Stejon Productions Corp., which is the company that manages the cheerleaders, has suspended the squad until further notice, USA Today reports. The suspension affects 35 women recently selected for the squad.

“When the time is right, I will be making a statement,” Mateczun said in an email to The Buffalo News.

The suspension follows Tuesday’s announcement that five former Bills cheerleaders filed suit saying they are wrongly classified as independent contractors and are therefore not paid the state’s $8 minimum wage. One of the cheerleaders, Alyssa U., told the Associated Press that she estimated she was paid only $420 for the 2012-13 football season. Another cheerleader, Maria P., says she only got $105 for the season.

The first home game for the Bills is scheduled for Sept. 14.

As TIME reported in February, cheerleaders for the Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders also have pending lawsuits for wage theft. Not only are the women paid meager salaries, but they are required to adhere to various regulations from their appearance to expected behavior. This includes expensive mandatory trips to nail and hair salons and reminders of how to behave at parties. According to the Buffalo Jills’ suit, cheerleaders are forced to participate in “jiggle tests” so their coach can assess their body firmness. In the complaint documents which were procured by Deadspin, the women were also given a rulebook with demands like: “how to properly wash “intimate areas,” and how often to change tampons.”

“Everything from standing in front of us with a clipboard having us do a jiggle test to see what parts of our body were jiggling,” cheerleader Alyssa U. told the Associated Press, “and if that was something that she saw, you were getting benched.”

The Bills are aware of the Jills’ decision to suspend operations, but declined comment, USA Today reports. Scott Berchtold, senior vice president of communications for the Buffalo Bills, said in an email response to TIME on Tuesday that “we are aware of this lawsuit and it is our organizational policy not to comment on pending litigation.”

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