Former Cheerleader Sues NFL for Discrimination

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Apr 17, 2018

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Cheerleaders A former NFL cheerleader has sued for discrimination after she was fired for violating a social media policy that doesn’t apply to male football players.

Bailey Davis, a former cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints, has a private Instagram account.

In January, while she was still working for the Saints, she posted a photo of herself in a one-piece outfit.

The Saints obtained a copy of the photo, even though it was private, and the senior director of the cheerleading squad told her that it showed “poor judgement” for her to post it.

The Saints accused her of violating a rule that prohibit its cheerleaders from appearing nude, semi-nude, or in lingerie.

The Saints cheerleaders, known as the “Saintsations,” perform in bikini-type bare-midriff outfits.

Davis was also accused of breaking the team rules by attending a party with Saints players. She denied the accusation, and team officials admitted that they had no evidence she attended.

Davis, who had spent three seasons as a Saints cheerleader without any issues, was then fired.

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She filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency that enforces civil rights laws related to employment.

The complaint asserts that the Saints apply different rules to men and women, in violation of federal law.

As the New York Times reported,

According to the Saints’ handbook for cheerleaders, as well as internal emails and text messages reviewed by The New York Times and interviews with Davis, the Saints have an anti-fraternization policy that requires cheerleaders to avoid contact with players, in person or online, even though players are not penalized for pursuing such engagement with cheerleaders. The cheerleaders must block players from following them on social media and cannot post photos of themselves in Saints gear, denying them the chance to market themselves. The players are not required to do any of these things.

Saints cheerleaders may not eat in the same restaurants as the players, while the players are eating, or even speak to them at length.

According to the Times,

If a Saints cheerleader enters a restaurant and a player is already there, she must leave. If a cheerleader is in a restaurant and a player arrives afterward, she must leave.


Since there are almost 2,000 players in the NFL, many of whom use pseudonyms, it’s a challenge for cheerleaders to block each of them individually on social media.

According to the Saints, the rules are intended to protect cheerleaders from being preyed on by players.

NFL rules prohibit any team from engaging in unlawful discrimination based on sex.

Davis argues that the team rules are illegal because they apply only to women.

Minimum Wage

A Saints cheerleader with three years of experience is paid $10.25 per hour — $3 more than the minimum wage in Louisiana.

As the Times reported, a few years ago many NFL cheerleaders weren’t even paid minimum wage and had to sue to be paid in accordance with the law.

Photo Credit:

By Mike Turner (originally posted to Flickr as NFL London 2008) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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