“Buffalo Jills” Suing For Abusive Work Environment
April 29, 2014 1:53pm PST
Everyone who lives in NY knows that the Buffalo Bills cheerleaders are called the Buffalo Jills, but what you may not know is what it takes to be one. After years of harassment and abuse, at least 5 of the girls have had enough and have decided to file suit.
According to the ladies, their workplace expectations aren’t confined to just working hours, but all times. As a Buffalo Jill, cheerleaders are expected to live a life becoming of the teams name (despite them being arguable one of the poorest performers in the NFL).
That being said, the women have come forward to share just a few of their contractual obligations such as this little gem:
For instance, how much bread to eat at a formal dinner, how our nails needed to be clear polish or manicured, our hair done a certain way — this was not only when we were working and in uniform, but in our personal life as well. We were instructed on how to act off the field. And it got pretty gritty too — how to wash intimate areas.
From the Jills’ Etiquette for Formal Dining, for instance, for soup, it states: “Dip the spoon into the soup moving it away from your body until it is about two thirds full, then sip the liquid without slurping from the side of the spoon without inserting the whole spoon in your mouth.” [Laughs] Hearing myself say it just sounds ridiculous.
Perhaps one of the most invasive, and humiliating, practices the girls are subjected to is what they refer to as the “jiggle test.” As described by one of the cheerleaders:
We had to stand in front of our coach in our uniform in rows of five as she stood before us with a clipboard and had us face forward as she reviewed our bodies.
We turned around, had her look at our backside, and then turn forward again and she had us do jumping jacks in front of her to see what parts of our bodies were jiggling. That’s where it got it’s name — the Jiggle Test.
The next day, you receive an email which was categorized by different body parts and let’s say, she thought you had a stomach issue for that week, you got a check. If you had two checks, you weren’t field ready. If you had three checks, you were benched for the next game.
Speaking on the matter of compensation, management did little to incentivize the girls as promotional events came few and far between. Detailing the occurrences, one Jill shared:
We only got $35 an hour — for a maximum of two hours — for an occasional public appearance. Maybe you got one every three months — it was basically whoever answered that email the fastest is who got that paid appearance, and they were not offered often. Maybe two girls at most per event.
We did charity appearances that we were not getting compensated for — and we were OK with that. But Jills management was getting paid by these charities. We don’t understand where that money went, because it didn’t go to pay us.
Perhaps one of the most invasive expectations for the girls was what they were expected to do. Sharing how they were often objectified on principle, one cheerleader mentioned:
There was a golf tournament, a mandatory event. Girls wore their uniforms, however there was a dunk tank at the event on the golf course where girls were in bathing suits.
We had to sign up for different jobs or tasks during the tournament — some had to do the dunk tank, some girls had to be auctioned off. People were bidding for which Jill would ride along with them in the golf cart. Basically there were four seats to a golf cart — basically four men. So where was this Jill to sit? Well, in the golfer’s lap. It was very inappropriate.
While other times the women weren’t even comfortable enough to feel safe during events:
There were definitely uncomfortable situations where I felt that security should have been offered to us. For instance, there was something called “The Man Show,” [at a local casino] where girls had to walk around in their bikinis. And there were men who may have drank a little too much and got a little brave, and were in very close proximity to these ladies.
Now, cheerleaders are there for one thing and one thing only – and it despite their name, what they do isn’t helping the team perform any better. That being said, knowing that they’re basically there to be ogled at by lonely men, should they be allowed to complain knowing what they were getting into.
(See also: Sterling Officially Banned From The NBA)
They are in competition with literally thousands of other women who would kill for the same opportunity. So, after signing the contract, and knowing what they were getting into the question is if the company is taking advantage of the women.
So what do you guys think – did they know exactly what they were getting into as per their contracts or are they being objectified to a point of irrationality? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.
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