BUFFALO, NY - The future of the Buffalo Bills cheer leading squad, known as the Buffalo Jills, is surrounded by clouds of uncertainty, after a development Wednesday which caught even a lawyer representing several former Jills in a lawsuit filed earlier this week by surprise.
Stephanie Mateczun, President of SteJon Productions, the firm which operates and manages the Jills, sent an e-mail to WGRZ-TV, stating :
"I can confirm that I have suspended all Jills activities until further notice. I can not elaborate any further at this time."
This development comes two days after five former cheerleaders filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court against SteJon Productions, Citadel Broadcasting, --which previously operated the Jills, --and the Buffalo Bills, claiming the defendants failed to pay the Jills in accordance with state minimum wage laws.
The Plaintiffs allege they were forced to put in hundreds of hours for practices and appearances, for which their compensation, if broken down, would amount to as little as a couple of dollars an hour.
The lawsuit also claims the cheerleaders at times worked under humiliating and degrading conditions
The Bills, as was the case when the lawsuit was filed Tuesday, once again declined comment, citing the pending litigation.
The attorney representing the former cheeleaders who filed suit was surprised to hear that Jills management had suspended all activities when contacted by 2 On Your Side, but expressed a hope that it would allow SteJon to "clean up its act" if it was to continue t operate the squad.
"It was never our intent to stop the Jills from operating, but to send a message to encourage proper behavior," said Frank Dolce of the law firm Dolce Panepinto. "Every single plaintiff wants the Jills organization to thrive and move forward, but to do so in a proper and responsible way."
Dolce, who seeks back pay for wages his clients claim should have been paid, told Channel 2 news, "The NFL represents the highest level of professional sports, and to be an NFL cheerleader would be the highest level of in that profession. The Bills and whatever firm they contract with to manage the squad, need to ensure it's operated in a fashion that is emblematic of both."