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NFL cheerleader fights back after Instagram backlash

Apr. 22, 2018
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Bailey Davis is fighting back. The former New Orleans Saints “Saintsations” cheerleader has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a government agency that deals with civil rights law, due to what she views as sexist rules that led to her termination. 

Davis said she was fired for posting a picture of herself in a lingerie bodysuit to her then-private Instagram, as well as being at the same party as one of the Saints players, which she claims is not true. Both are violations of the Saintsations handbook, which also includes rules that Saintsations cannot appear in public or on social media in their uniforms, all makeup and hairstyles on gameday have to be approved by the team director, it is required to wear sports bras and hotpants during tryouts for promotional pictures, and they cannot reveal that they are Saints dancers on social media. Cheerleaders also have to leave a public venue if any NFL or NBA player is there, regardless of who arrived first. They must block players from following them on social media and are supposed to have as limited engagement with the players as possible. 

Davis in the post for which she was fired.

Davis and her lawyer, Sara Blackwell, believe that these rules are unfairly biased against women, as the Saints players have no such anti-fraternization rules. Players can reach out to Saintsations on social media, do not have to leave a place when they see dancers in public, and regularly post photos adoring underwear or uniforms to their Instagram accounts. The limits on dancers' social media can prevent them from career opportunities. Davis said as much in an NPR interview.

“When they said, ‘Well, you need to make your page private so these players can't find you,’ that's when I realized, OK, [it'll be] harder for people to find me and for me to find another job as a dancer, because social media is how we market ourselves nowadays.”

There are also the problems that come for Saintsations when they do other work for the team. To push bikini calendars that they were required to model for, the cheerleaders had to stand outside the stadium and sell an allotment of twenty calendars. Failure to do so meant hawking them in the stands during the games. According to Davis, “You walk by a guy and you’re afraid you’re going to get touched.”