A former cheerleader for the NFL team New Orleans Saints has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after being fired. She alleges that the Saints’ rules for cheerleader conduct are discriminatory and violate the NFL’s personal conduct policy because they apply only to women.
At the heart of the matter are the regulations that forbid fraternization between cheerleaders and players. The cheerleaders are not allowed to have contact with players in person or online and must block any players who try to follow them on social media. They are also not allowed to post any photos of themselves wearing Saints gear. They may not pose nude, semi-nude or in lingerie for photos. The players are not subject to any of these rules.
Beyond “hello,” and “great game,” the cheerleaders may not speak with the players. Dining in the same restaurant is also prohibited. This means that if a cheerleader arrives in a restaurant where a player is dining, she must leave. If she was there first dining and a player arrives, she must leave the restaurant. The social media rules apply to all NFL players, many of whom use pseudonyms, so the cheerleader is responsible for blocking any of the nearly 2,000 players that might try to follow her.
According to the Saints, the conduct rules are there to protect the cheerleaders from being preyed upon by players. However, the plaintiff’s lawyer maintains that the rules should apply to everyone and that the players should have to abide by the rules too. The idea that women need to hide and be protected is an “antiquated stereotype” that is not permitted in the workplace, the lawyer said.
In an email statement, the lawyer defending the Saints said that the organization strives for fair treatment of all employees including the plaintiff and that she was not discriminated against based on her gender. The NFL has declined to comment on the case.
Working Conditions for Cheerleaders
Many cheerleading squads have had to sue to achieve better working conditions. Though their appearances on the field seem glamourous, the cheerleaders for the Oakland Raiders had to file a lawsuit to ensure they would be paid minimum wage plus overtime for their work. Other squads such as those for the Cincinnati Bengals, NY Jets, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers won settlements after it was revealed that they were underpaid and required to pay for their own makeup, uniforms, and transportation.
Fired After Instagram Post
The plaintiff in the Saints case was the subject of an unsubstantiated rumor that she had been at a party that had also been attended by a player from the team. Then the team acquired a photo from her private Instagram account of her posing in a one-piece negligee. Even though the account is private she was told she had violated the rules of conduct and four days later she was fired. By filing a complaint with the EEOC, she hopes that the team will change the rules, but she does not expect to get her job back.
Red Bank Employment Lawyers at McOmber & McOmber, P.C. Fight for Victims of Gender DiscriminationDiscrimination in the workplace is prohibited by both state and federal law. If you have experienced discrimination of any kind at your place of work, contact a skilled Red Bank employment lawyer at McOmber & McOmber, P.C. who will evaluate your case free of charge. Call 732-842-6500 today or contact us online to schedule a consultation. From our offices conveniently located in Red Bank and Marlton, we represent clients in Cherry Hill, Middletown, and throughout New Jersey.