Buffalo Bills Cheerleaders Lawsuit May Inspire New State Bill

Five “Buffalo Jills,” cheerleaders for the Buffalo Bills NFL team, filed a lawsuit in 2014 claiming the team paid cheerleaders less than minimum wage for their work and also required them to work at public appearances for free. The suit may have influenced a bill requiring sports teams in New York to treat their cheerleaders as employees and pay them minimum wage.

The bill was introduced on Wednesday, June 3, 2015 by assemblywoman Nily Rozic, D-Queens. It seeks to offer cheerleading and dance squads of professional sports teams in New York the, “rights, benefits and protections,” of team employees.

Cheerleaders often worked previously on a contractual basis, without these privileges.

Rozic said, “Sports teams and owners should not continue to capitalize without providing the most basic workplace protections.”

The bill is called the Cheerleaders’ Fair Pay Act, and would apply to individuals who, “performs acrobatics, dance or gymnastic exercises in promotion of a professional sports franchise.”

If the Cheerleaders’ Fair Pay Act passes, its provisions would take effect immediately and all professional sports teams in New York would be required to follow its stipulations.

Since filing the lawsuit last year, the Buffalo Jills have been on hiatus and did not perform at any games last year. Their lawsuit describes additional claims of sexual harassment and regulations for proper hygiene and behavior in public.

Several other groups of cheerleaders have filed lawsuits against their respective National Football League teams, according to WGRZ.com. Cheerleaders with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders have already settled their claims against the teams.

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