The lawsuit filed this spring this year by five former members of the Buffalo Jills has attracted national attention. Andrea Kremer of HBO’s “Real Sports” talks to two of the former Jills who are suing the Buffalo Bills and the management of the cheerleading organization. Kremer’s report will air on the magazine show on Tuesday at 10 p.m.
Five ex-Jills in late April sued the NFL team, Stejon Productions – the company that manages the cheerleading squad – and Citadel Communications, the Jills’ previous manager, in New York State Supreme Court.
Two of the former Jills, Maria P. and Alyssa U., give their side of the story in interviews with Kremer. (The plaintiffs are identified only by their first names and last initials in court papers.)
The two women maintain they were paid nothing to perform at Bills home games, and were paid considerably less than minimum wage over the course of their employment as Jills.
Alyssa U. tells Kremer that she went into debt to be a Jill, using student loan money to pay for her $650 uniform and other expenses. The women also detail what they say were degrading activities in which they had to participate, including something called the jiggle test where the women had to perform 10 jumping jacks and be evaluated on the appearance of their bodies during that exercise. If their appearances were found wanting in the jiggling test, they could be barred from performing on the field on any given Sunday.
According to the report, there were rules in the Jills handbook dictating what kind of tampons the women should use. That had little to do with cheerleading, according to the two women, but was about Jills management exerting control over them.
Kremer also interviews Stephanie Mateczun, the president of Stejon Productions, which manages the cheerleaders. Mateczun maintains that “these girls were never made to do anything they never have wanted to do. We were creating a team of just well-rounded young ladies and they could have resigned at any time.”
Mateczun, in the interview, also defends the so-called jiggle test, saying that “you are in a very unforgiving uniform. So it’s important that you were physically fit.”
The former Jills interviewed by Kremer also say they were directed to work at golf tournaments that involved some activities that they found degrading, including being made to ride on the lap of golfers who “won” the women in an auction.
Kremer’s report also touches upon similar lawsuits filed against the cheering squads for the Oakland Raiders and the Cincinnati Bengals.