A former cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints has filed a complaint after the football team gave her the boot over a rule-violating Instagram photo a move she says proves the Saints are discriminating against women.
Bailey Davis, 22, filed the complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging the set of rules the Saints bestow upon its cheerleaders are entirely different from the ones followed by players, according to the New York Times.
She says that because she is technically “N.F.L. personnel,” the Saints’ differing set of rules violates the league’s personal conduct policy that prohibits discrimination.
The cheerleader was fired in January just four days after sharing a photo of herself in a one-piece outfit to her private Instagram page. The image violated the Saints’ rule banning cheerleaders from posing nude, seminude or in lingerie, the Times reports.
It was only because of the rules that Davis’ Instagram was private in the first place just one in a lengthy set of commands that also requires cheerleaders to block all players from their social media accounts and avoid restaurants and parties where players are in attendance.
Saints players, meanwhile, are allowed to follow any account they choose and do not have to make their profiles private. The team reportedly claims the rules are in place as a means of protecting the women from “preying” athletes.
“If the cheerleaders can’t contact the players, then the players shouldn’t be able to contact the cheerleaders,” Davis’ lawyer Sara Blackwell told the Times. “The antiquated stereotype of women needing to hide for their own protection is not permitted in America and certainly not in the workplace.”
Davis says she had worked for the Saints for three years with no problems, save for one incident in which she was accused of attending a party in which a player was also in attendance. She was allegedly called into a team meeting, where she denied attending the party and was told the Saints had no evidence to prove it.
Shortly after sharing the Instagram photo that ultimately got her fired, Davis says she received a text from the cheer squad’s senior director Ashley Deaton insulting the post and referencing the party.
“Very poor judgement (sic) to post a picture like that especially considering our recent conversations about the rumors going around about u,” the text reportedly read. “This does not help your case. I’d expect you to know better.”
In a statement to the Times, a lawyer for the Saints said the organization aims to treat all employees fairly, and that Davis never faced any discrimination because of her gender.
Meanwhile, the ex-cheerleader said she hopes her filing will aid others in her position by forcing teams to change their rules so all employees, male and female, are treated equally.