NFL cheerleader sues team after claiming she was fired for posting a swimsuit photo
Years ago, before Mark Zuckerberg had his 'Eureka' moment, very few people knew what social media was. Some tech-savvy folks had blogs, of course, and others would connect via very primitive forms of social networking sites, but the idea of having an online profile was nowhere near as ubiquitous as it is now.
By contrast, in 2018, pretty much everyone and their dog has an Instagram account. (No, literally, I follow more dogs than people on that app). But this development in the way we socialize and interact with the world hasn't been an entirely positive one.
In fact, for Bailey Davis, a former cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints, one simple post on the photo-sharing platform cost the 22-year-old her job.
As part of her contract with the Saints, Davis was prohibited from sharing images of herself in which she was naked, seminude or in lingerie. But, when she uploaded a picture of herself in a one-piece swimsuit to Instagram back in January, she didn't think she was in violation of the rules, as it wasn't overly explicit. What's more, Davis had made her account private, so it wasn't as if a wide audience had access to what she was posting.
Despite this, the team decided that she had broken her contract. At the same time, she was accused of attending the same party as some of the Saints players - another thing she wasn't allowed to do, but also something she denies - and was subsequently fired from her position.
However, rather than back down quietly, Davis decided to fight back, arguing that she had been discriminated on the basis of her gender.
See, while Saints players can post images of themselves in their gear and follow whomever they like on social media, cheerleaders cannot show themselves in uniform, and must block players from following them. In fact, they're not even allowed to eat in the same restaurants as team members (and if a player enters a place while a cheerleader is already there, the cheerleader is the one who has to leave), as any and all forms of contact are blocked.
This, the team claims, is for women's "protection".
"If the cheerleaders can’t contact the players, then the players shouldn’t be able to contact the cheerleaders," said Sara Blackwell, Davis’ lawyer. "The antiquated stereotype of women needing to hide for their own protection is not permitted in America and certainly not in the workplace."
At the moment, it isn't clear whether or not other cheerleading squads in the NFL have to follow the same, weirdly archaic, rules, but Blackwell says she believes the Saints aren't the only ones to have such policies.
However, despite her appeals, Davis' expulsion from the team was upheld by their lawyer.
Leslie A. Lanusse, who represents the Saints, said in an email:
"The Saints organization strives to treat all employees fairly, including Ms. Davis. 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."
Regardless of what the team may say, though, it does seem ridiculous that cheerleaders have to adhere to all these rules for their own safety - meanwhile, the players have free reign across social media. Hopefully, now that Davis has brought the issue into the public eye, teams will change their policies to allow women the same rights as men.