A Jones County woman is challenging the New Orleans Saints after she was fired from the team's cheer and dance squad, the Saintsations, earlier this year.
Bailey Davis filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Friday, claiming the Saints have unfair, discriminatory rules for cheerleaders and players.
After three years on the squad, Davis said she was terminated after a photo she posted on her private Instagram account.
"Something I've worked for my whole life to be a professional cheerleader and it was taken away because of an Instagram picture and because my character was in question," said Davis.
Davis's lawyer, Sara Blackwell, said the team claimed the photo violated the rules. Blackwell said Saintsations are not allowed to post any photos in lingerie, or something that would be considered semi-nude.
"The players have pictures of themselves in their underwear and they don't get in trouble for it, but Bailey's private Instagram account had a picture of a one piece, it was a professional picture," said Blackwell.
Davis said there were also rumors that she was at a party with a football player, which she denies. That would also be against the rules, as Davis explains Saintsations are not allowed to be at a place with a player. If one shows up, they are told they have to leave.
"In the past we have had cheerleaders fired for fraternization," said Davis.
"They said because she posted that, they thought the rumors were probably more true, that that didn't look good for her and her denial of the rumors," said Blackwell. "They said she had a dirty face in the picture and that was a violation of the rules and regulations of the Saints."
Davis grew up in dancing in Ellisville and was recently an instructor at the Dance Arts Studio, according to the business' website. It states her mother, Lora, is the owner.
"My mom was the field team director for the Saints so I grew up with her going to the games, going to the Saintsation practices," said Davis. "I wanted to be one of those amazing women that I saw on the field, representing the Saints."
According to the Dance Arts website, her mother has choreographed for the Saintsations and serves as the Game Day Coordinator.
"It breaks my heart because I've been on the team for three years, I've put everything into this team," said Davis.
Blackwell said now that the complaint has been filed with the EOC, the commission takes over. They have also filed a demand for arbitration and are waiting to move forward with that.
"It's a waiting game right now," said Blackwell.
They have also requested a hearing with the NFL commissioners, but have not heard back on that request yet.
"Currently the NFL owners are meeting in Orlando," said Blackwell, who works out of Sarasota, Florida. "We're hoping they put this on the agenda and make the changes that are required to make gender equality."
Davis and Blackwell both said this is not about getting back on the squad, but about starting an important conversation in professional athletics.
"I hope that more cheerleaders from the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, everywhere that these kind of rules are prevelant and going on, I hope these cheerleaders and dancers come out and tell their story," said Blackwell.
"I also hope that the players get just as offended as the cheerleaders and I hope they start standing up for the gender discrimination that is within their own league," Blackwell said. "And I hope that they are offended that the teams are treating the cheerleaders as if they need to be protected from the cheerleaders, I think that is very offensive. So I'm hoping that now only the cheerleaders from all these different athletic groups, but also the players, stand up."
Attorneys for the Saints sent our Raycom-affiliate, WVUE, a statement saying the organization does not tolerate discrimination of any kind, and it specifically denies that Ms. Davis was treated any differently on account of her sex. It goes on to say, the Saints look forward to clearing themselves of any wrongdoing with regards to its policies and workplace rules.