Washington Redskins cheerleaders were required to participate in a topless photoshoot in front of male spectators, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
The cheerleading squad was flown to Costa Rica for a calendar photoshoot in 2013, and some cheerleaders were required to pose topless or nude even though the published calendar would not include nudity. The Redskins reportedly invited sponsors and suite holders to watch the photoshoot up close, former cheerleaders told the Times.
The 36 women, who had their passports collected by Redskins officials upon arrival in Costa Rica, were not paid for the weeklong trip, reports the Times, aside from covering the cost of the trip itself. Some of the cheerleaders were additionally assigned to escort male sponsors to a nightclub following the photoshoot. "They weren't putting a gun to our heads, but it was mandatory for us to go," one cheerleader told the Times. It felt like the Redskins officials were "pimping us out," squad members said.
The cheerleading squad's director denied that the women were forced to go on the trip, and the team said in a statement that "each Redskin cheerleader is contractually protected to ensure a safe and constructive environment." The director, Stephanie Jojokian, "choked up" when discussing some of the women's allegations, the Times said.
NFL cheerleaders can be fired for posting photos of themselves in swimsuits or lingerie on social media. Cheerleaders for the NFL have come forward in recent months to allege discrimination and hostile work environments, and have filed lawsuits to demand to be paid minimum wage. Read more at The New York Times.