Some Ohio pro football fans may have heard that a former cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The woman, who was fired because of an unproven allegation that she attended the same party as a football player and a photo she posted to Instagram, is arguing in the complaint that the discrimination is sex-based because the rules for cheerleaders do not apply to players.
The New York Times investigated further and found that the organization has several requirements that only apply to cheerleaders. They cannot post photos of themselves to social media wearing Saints gear, and they must have private accounts and block NFL players. They also must leave any unapproved events if an NFL player is there even if it is dinner in a restaurant in some cases. Players are not under the same obligation to not contact cheerleaders.
Several other football teams have faced lawsuits from cheerleaders related to wages. The Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers both settled with cheerleaders while the Buffalo Bills disbanded their cheerleading squad after accusations of minimum wage law violations.
Workplace discrimination is generally considered to be discrimination directed at an employee because of a factor such as race, sex, religion, disability and other protected characteristics. People who believe they are being discriminated against in the workplace may want to talk to an attorney about whether the behavior constitutes illegal actions and how they should respond. For example, many organizations have channels for reporting discrimination. Unfortunately, these reports are not always adequately investigated or addressed. If this happens, an attorney may be able to advise regarding the next step including the possibility of filing a lawsuit.
Source: SB Nation, "Discrimination complaint, investigation reveal how much Saints try to control cheerleaders' personal lives", Christian D'Andrea, March 26, 2018