Former Saints cheerleader files gender discrimination complaint
SARASOTA (FOX 13) - For three years, Bailey Davis lived out her dream by cheering for the New Orleans Saints.
"They tell us soak in every second on the field and I truly did. I loved cheering for that team on and off the field," the Sarasota native said.
Behind her cheerful smile, though, she was walking on eggshells.
"They told us in an email, ‘You are pretty girls, we expect you to get attention from these players and they will prey on you,’" she said.
In a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Bailey claims there were two sets of rules: One for the players and one for the cheerleaders.
The first time she got a taste of it is when she was accused of going to a party where one of the Saints players was in attendance. She said the rules for cheerleaders bans them from being in the same place as players, even if it's by coincidence.
"No players were called in. And that's when I realized, OK, the players don't have the same rules," she said.
Then, a week later, she posted a photo on her personal Instagram account, showing her in a one-piece body suit. The team said again she broke their rules against posting lingerie photos online.
"He kept telling me ‘perception is reality.’ It was like this photo makes it look like you were going around with players," said Bailey.
Bailey said rules for cheerleaders require them to block and not follow the players on social media, but the same rules do not apply to players.
In addition to her EOC complaint, which alleges gender discrimination, she and her attorney Sara Blackwell also want a hearing with the NFL commissioner.
"The NFL owners are meeting this week and we really want to encourage them to look at these rules. It costs them nothing to either take the rules from the cheerleaders or add them to the players. It's only a good thing. There is only good that can come of it," said Blackwell.
Bailey said she just wants to level the playing field.
"I hope we are heard. I hope more girls speak up and that we are heard and we want the same rules and we deserve the same rules. We work just as hard to be a dancer as the football players work to be professional football players," she said.
The Saints denied any discrimination took place.
"The Saints organization strives to treat all employees fairly, including Ms. Davis," said Leslie A. Lanusse, the team's lawyer. "At the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum, the Saints will defend the organization's policies and workplace rules. For now, it is sufficient to say that Ms. Davis was not subjected to discrimination because of her gender."