Labor & Employment

Lawyer for 2 ex-NFL cheerleaders offers to settle bias claims for $1 each and 'good faith' meeting

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A lawyer representing two former cheerleaders for National Football League teams has offered to settle their bias complaints for $1 each and a “good faith” meeting with Commissioner Roger Goodell and league lawyers.

Lawyer Sara Blackwell is seeking the meeting with the aim of developing rules that apply to all NFL teams with cheerleaders, the New York Times reports. The Washington Post and the National Law Journal note the story.

Blackwell also wants to require teams to keep their cheerleading squads intact for at least five years to avoid retaliation. Blackwell’s clients would be at the meeting, along with two cheerleaders from other teams.

Blackwell represents former New Orleans Saints cheerleader Bailey Davis and former Miami Dolphins cheerleader Kristan Ann Ware. Davis filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, while Ware filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

Davis says she was fired in January for posting a photo of herself in a lace bodysuit on Instagram and because of rumors she was at a party that included Saints players. Cheerleaders are often barred from any association with players and they are limited in how they can represent themselves, the Washington Post explains. Davis says those kinds of rules don’t apply to players.

Ware says she was held to different standards than Dolphins players regarding social media and expression of her Christian beliefs. She has alleged discrimination based on both religion and gender.

Blackwell spoke with the National Law Journal about the representation. She said that cheerleaders aren’t aware of other discrimination complaints because most apparently sign arbitration agreements with class-action waivers.

“For me, it’s beyond equal pay and sexual harassment. The rules are not equal and that puts women at risk in a way that men are not,” Blackwell told the National Law Journal. “It’s the office politics that keep women at a disadvantage. It’s not just about cheerleading, but every career.”

The NFL released a statement saying the league and its member clubs support fair employment practices.

“Everyone who works in the NFL, including cheerleaders, has the right to work in a positive and respectful environment that is free from any and all forms of harassment and discrimination and fully complies with state and federal laws,” the statement said.

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