Can you imagine a job where you have strict rules on what you can wear, what your hair color is, how much you weigh, and with whom you can speak? And with that job comes a minimum wage paycheck? And that women work very hard to get this job?
That would describe an NFL Cheerleader, according to an interview at The Daily with Former New Orleans Saints' "Saintsation" cheerleader, Bailey Davis. Davis was fired for an Instagram post where she wore lingerie. Now, admittedly, it's not a whole lot of clothes, but it's actually more clothing than a lot of the uniforms Davis wore while dancing. It's kind of hard to stomach the hypocrisy.
In an interview with the New York Time's The Daily, Davis shared her story. How she dreamed her whole life of being a Saintsation, and worked towards that goal. And what the rules were when she achieved that. Here are some highlights:
- She couldn't follow any NFL players on social media (not just her team), but they were allowed to follow her. If one followed her, she had to block him, and if she failed to do so, she would be terminated.
- She was not allowed to message any NFL players, but they could message her. She was to ignore their messages.
- She was to leave the room whenever a player came in because the football players were predators. She said this was in writing.
- Her weight and hair color was subject to her boss's approval.
- She was accused of "being around football players" at a party.
- HR assumed that the players had no reason to lie but the cheerleaders had reason to lie, so they would trust the players over the cheerleaders.
Other cheerleaders reported that her weight at 108 was too high, a cheerleader that worked as a bartender had to leave work if a football player came into the bar, and that coaches (also female) enforced these rules because there were thousands of girls who wanted the job.
Davis said, in the interview: "When I was a Saintsation, it didn't bother me. I didn't see how discriminating it was until I stepped back and I realized this can be so much better. These girls work just as hard their whole lives to be cheerleaders as the football players did to be football players, why are we treated differently? Why do we have all these extra rules to protect ourselves from these predators? Why can't they handle their own football players?"
It's a good question. But, it was Davis' dream job and she said you'll do anything to keep your dream job. It just your normal. But she realizes now that it's an insane type of normal.
Whether Davis will win her lawsuit or not is up in the air. It's doubtful that she has a case of gender discrimination because football players and cheerleaders aren't "similarly situated" employees, which means you can have different rules for each group. But, what she is doing is letting the rest of the world look into horrible sexist practices.
While thousands of women do want these cheerleader jobs, it doesn't make it okay. They deserve to be paid for all hours worked, including practices. If spray tans are required for performance, then that should be considered a work expense that the team pays for. While you can, technically, require employees to purchase uniforms (which I would argue, spray tans are a part of a uniform), you can only do so if the purchase doesn't reduce an employee's wage below minimum wage. Because Davis only earned minimum wage her first year as a cheerleader, that seems to be a wage violation.
Regardless of what happens, Davis has turned the light on and everyone can see these practices. If people want to take jobs under these conditions, they should be free to do so, but let's be honest about what goes on and how they are treated.