Employers in California and around the country are expected to comply with all state and federal civil rights laws, and workers who feel that they have been treated unfairly based on their gender, national origin, religion or race can file complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. One such complaint was submitted recently by a former member of the New Orleans Saints cheerleading squad who claims that she was required to follow highly restrictive rules that did not apply to the male players.
The woman maintains that policies put into place by the New Orleans Saints violate the National Football League’s personal conduct policy. NFL rules prohibit unlawful workplace discrimination such as rules that apply to men but not women. The woman says that cheerleaders were ordered to have virtually no contact with the playing staff and even had orders to leave restaurants should a player arrive. A New Orleans Saints representative said that the team had not discriminated against the woman and would mount a vigorous defense in the appropriate forum.
The EEOC complaint does not mark the first time that NFL teams have found themselves embroiled in legal disputes with cheerleaders. The Oakland Raiders agreed to pay $1.25 million to settle wage theft litigation with its cheerleaders in 2013, and the Buffalo Bills elected to disband their cheerleading squad entirely the following year to avoid a similar lawsuit.
Cases such as this one often hinge on the evidence provided by employees who have been treated poorly. Employers may seek to resolve this kind of dispute quickly when the evidence against them is strong and their reputations could be in jeopardy. Attorneys with experience in this area may urge their clients to gather documents, such as emails, training manuals, memorandums and policy announcements, that might prove useful in settlement negotiations.
Source: SB Nation, Discrimination complaint, investigation reveal how much Saints try to control cheerleaders’ personal lives, Christian D’Andrea, March 26, 2018