A former New Orleans Saints cheerleader has filed a complaint against the team with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after being fired over a private Instagram post featuring the cheerleader in a one-piece outfit.
The complaint filed by Bailey Davis claims the team has a different set of rules for men and women in the organization. A New York Times investigation revealed that the Saints has a policy that requires cheerleaders to avoid contact with players, in person or online, even though players are not penalized for pursuing cheerleaders. Further, cheerleaders must block players from following them on social media, but players aren’t held to the same standard.
“If the cheerleaders can’t contact the players, then the players shouldn’t be able to contact the cheerleaders,’ Sara Blackwell, Davis’ lawyer, said. “The antiquated stereotype of women needing to hide for their own protection is not permitted in America and certainly not in the workplace.”
The team says its rules are in place to protect cheerleaders from players preying on them. The Saints also say that the Instagram post in question was the violation of team policy prohibiting Saints cheerleaders from appearing nude, semi-nude, or in lingerie. The picture surfaced amid an investigation into her being a party with other Saints players, also a violation of the team rules. Davis denies being at the party in question.
The lawsuit claims Davis qualifies as “NFL personnel.” The league’s policy prohibits “any forms of unlawful discrimination in employment based on an individual’s” race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability or sexual orientation, “regardless of whether it occurs in the workplace or in other NFL-sponsored settings.”
Davis lost her job in January and she doesn’t expect to get it back. But she says she is pursuing the lawsuit to help future cheerleaders gain equal workplace treatment.
“I’m doing this for them so they can do what they love and feel protected and empowered, and be a female athlete and not be pushed to the side and feeling unimportant,” Davis said.