Jacalyn Bailey Davis was fired from her job as a New Orleans Saints cheerleader because of an Instagram post the team and the NFL deemed inappropriate. Now, Davis is firing back, going after both the team and the league for gender discrimination. According to the complaint, Davis alleges that female cheerleaders are held to a different standard than male football players.
The allegation details multiple different ways Davis says the team discriminates against cheerleaders, including barring them from: following any coaches or players on social media, keeping them from contacting players or responding to messages from them, posting any photos wearing Saints gear, or from posting any photos of themselves that could be considered in lingerie or ‘semi-nude’.
In addition, Davis says the team forbids cheerleaders from “making eye contact” with players in tunnels leading into the stadium, and forces cheerleaders to leave restaurants or parties if an NFL player is on the premises. These rules, according to Davis, are over and above the NFL’s personal conduct policy, the blanket policy that applies to all coaches, players and employees.
At this time, the NFL has declined to comment on the allegations. The Saints, however, issued a statement saying: “(the team) denies that Ms. Davis was discriminated against because she is female…”
Davis says that’s not the case. The team, she alleges, treats cheerleaders differently because they are female. Her complaint alleges that she was told by an employee that the guidelines were created to “protect female cheerleaders from player advances…”
According to the complaint, Davis was criticized for attending a party where an NFL player was present, and that she had to be reprimanded for exchanging messages with a player on Instagram. Davis says she didn’t attend that party, and, while she did receive messages from players on social media, she didn’t respond. In response to the reprimand, Davis says she made her Instagram account private.
Later, Davis posted a photo of herself in lingerie on her Instagram feed. Once the Saints saw this post, they fired Davis for violating their standards of conduct. Despite previously agreeing to the standards, Davis says they are unfair and discriminatory, because players are not held to the same standards, because, she says, they’re male.
Because Davis has an arbitration agreement with the team, she can’t sue, so she will have to wait for a ruling from the EEOC, which agreed to investigate the allegation made against the team and the league. If Davis wins, the ruling could have far-reaching consequences for the entire NFL.