‘Jiggle Tests,’ Mandatory Lap Sitting, and ‘Man Show’ Abuse – Why Five Cheerleaders Are Suing an NFL Team

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Five Buffalo Bills cheerleaders have filed a lawsuit against the team’s cheerleading squad management company after alleging employment abuses while working for the team. The action has caused the management company to suspend all cheerleading activities for this season, meaning the Bills will go without their beloved “Jills” cheerleaders.

One cheerleader spoke to the NY Post about that treatment:

I have always been a huge Buffalo Bills fan and it was always a dream of mine, since I was a little girl, to be a Buffalo Jill… What I had hoped was that it would open many doors, for this to be an experience of a lifetime.

Ridiculously Intrusive Contract Requirements

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.

Monitoring of Social Media

They ended up taking photos from these girls’ Facebook that they thought were inappropriate, and putting up a slideshow in front of all of our peers. Their way of informing us what to do and how to act, and things to post and not post was to embarrass us and publicly display these pictures of what not to do.

A Weekly “Jiggle Test” You Don’t Study For

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.

Questionable Compensation Practices

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.

Innappropriate Golfcart Seating

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.

The ‘Man Show’

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.

When I first heard this story, I thought it was kinda ridiculous – the team is just responding to market realities. When they have open try-outs, many thousands of women apply because there’s such prestige associated with being a cheerleader. Well, that means you give up expecting very good compensation when there’s so much supply of labor, and so little demand.

However, after reading what they’re being put through, it really seems like too much. I would rather follow a team that has some respect for their cheerleaders than one completely taking advantage of them. I really hope that the NFL takes some steps to make sure their cheerleaders aren’t subjected to abuse.

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