NFL cheerleader sues after being fired for swimsuit photo

Bailey Davis is suing the NFL for gender discrimination

Former New Orleans Saints cheerleader Bailey Davis was fired after posting a picture of herself in a lace leotard
(Image credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

A New Orleans Saints cheerleader is accusing the NFL of gender discrimination after she was fired for posting an image of herself in a swimsuit.

22-year-old Bailey Davis was kicked off the Saintsations, the Saints’ cheerleading group, for posting a photo of herself in a one-piece swimsuit on Instagram in January, violating a rule that prohibits cheerleaders from appearing nude, semi-nude or in lingerie.

Davis had spent three seasons travelling with the team until she was fired on 23 January for the photo as well as an allegation she attended a party with Saints players, which would constitute another rule violation.

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But Davis argues that as the rule about appearing semi-nude does not apply to Saints football players her employer is guilty of gender discrimination.

An investigation by The New York Times also found that the Saints’ anti-fraternisation policy “requires cheerleaders to avoid contact with players, in person or online, even though players are not penalised 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.”

In January 2018, the Saints reminded the all-female dance squad that their social media pages must be in "private mode", according to an email obtained by the BBC.

Davis said they were also told to remove their last names from their Instagram accounts to avoid being found online by football players.

"In an effort to protect you from player advances and activity that can be deemed suspicious it is in your best interest that as long as you are a Saintsation you do not follow any players or coaches at all," coach Ashely Deaton said in an email.

After she was fired, Davis hired a lawyer and filed a discrimination complaint against the NFL team with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

“If the cheerleaders can’t contact the players, then the players shouldn’t be able to contact the cheerleaders,” said Sara Blackwell, Davis’s lawyer. “The antiquated stereotype of women needing to hide for their own protection is not permitted in America and certainly not in the workplace.”

The NFL declined to comment about Davis’s claims.

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