|4 with 4 co-captains|
The Bills had cheerleaders in 1960 known simply as the Buffalo Bills Cheerleaders. At the time, they were a group of eight Buffalo State College cheerleaders. They ran this squad until 1965 and went without cheerleaders in 1966. In 1967, the Buffalo Jills were founded and have progressed from a few young women in wool uniforms to a squad of 36 young ladies in more-revealing attire.
They have annually sold a swimsuit calendar since the 2000-2001 season and participate in various events in the Western New York area. Troop visits are a regular occurrence as well and a group of eight girls spent February 22 - March 4, 2007, visiting troops in Iraq, the only NFL squad on that tour at the time.
In 1986, the Bills discontinued its official ties to the squad and contracted them out to third parties beginning with the fast food chain Mighty Taco. The Bills' continued role (or lack thereof) in employing the squad is currently being disputed in court. In December 2014, Justice Timothy Drury of the New York Supreme Court found that the Bills set the terms of the Jills' contracts and approved them.
In 1995, seeking respect and better pay, the Jills formed the first cheerleaders union in the NFL.
In 2002, the new director instituted an Ambassador Squad, a group of 8-12 Buffalo Jills who did not dance on the sidelines and field. This was not only to allow the squad to more easily meet the demands of all the public appearances they were asked to make, but allowed more young women to make the squad. The Ambassador Squad Jills became a good way to contribute for young women who either did not have the dancing ability required to make the field, or did not have the free time to attend all of the dance squad practices.
In 2006, a pair of Jills swept their first round events in the first year of the NFL Cheerleader Playoffs before falling in the second round.
Lawsuit and Suspension of Operations
Shortly after the squad's 35 members were selected for the 2014 season, a lawsuit was filed on April 22 by five former Jills that alleged the cheerleaders were not paid for hours they worked. Management then responded 2 days later by "suspending operations" of the cheerleading squad.
On May 28, 2015 Queens, NY Assemblywoman Nily Rozic introduced a bill in the New York State Assembly to change the New York State labor law to make it clear that professional cheerleaders are employees of the teams for which they cheer.
As of May 18, 2017, the plaintiffs scored a major victory in their lawsuit as a New York State Court has ruled the Jills to be non-exempt employees, not independent contractors. However, the court denied partial summary judgement as to whether the Bills themselves were their direct employers, and a jury will decide who the employers were unless a settlement is reached. In November 2017, Cumulus Media, who purchased Citadel Broadcasting (one of the primary sponsors of the Jills), entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and in January 2018, the company sought to terminate any remaining Bills-related debts it owed.
Despite the cessation of the cheerleading squad, former cheerleaders have organized the Buffalo Jills Alumni Association, which carries out reunion events every few years, and regularly carries out community service activities.
- Katherine "Katie" Kaczor-Bichler (2007–08), contestant of The Amazing Race 22
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- “Cumulus Seeks To Cancel WLUP/WKQX LMA Purchase; And Chicago PBP Deals” from Radio Insight (January 19, 2018)
- "Buffalo Jills Alumni are Alive and (still) Kicking". Buffalo Rising. 2019-05-07. Retrieved 2019-05-24.