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A Fired Cheerleader is Suing the Saints and Reveals How Bananas Their Work Rules Are

NYTLike a lot of people in their 20s, Bailey Davis has an Instagram account. And as a cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints, Davis said, she followed team rules and made the page private so only people she approved could see what she posted.

But when she posted a photo of herself in a one-piece outfit in January, Saints officials accused her, despite her protests, of breaking rules that prohibit cheerleaders from appearing nude, seminude or in lingerie. For this indiscretion, and amid an inquiry about her attending a party with Saints players — another regulation that she denies violating — Davis was fired after what she said were three largely trouble-free seasons.

Now Davis has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that enforces civil rights laws. …

According to the Saints’ handbook for cheerleaders, as well as internal emails and text messages reviewed by The New York Times and interviews with Davis, the Saints have an anti-fraternization policy that requires cheerleaders to avoid contact with players, in person or online, even though players are not penalized for pursuing such engagement with cheerleaders. The cheerleaders must block players from following them on social media and cannot post photos of themselves in Saints gear, denying them the chance to market themselves. The players are not required to do any of these things.

Cheerleaders are told not to dine in the same restaurant as players, or speak to them in any detail. If a Saints cheerleader enters a restaurant and a player is already there, she must leave. If a cheerleader is in a restaurant and a player arrives afterward, she must leave. …

“It bothers me that they tell me the players know who you are because you’re a pretty girl, you’re on the field with them all the time, but then it’s my fault because my Instagram was public,” Davis said.

I’m sure a lot of people reading this will say Bailey Davis knew what the rules are when she took the job, broke them anyway, and now she’s got no business bitching about getting fired. If that’s you, I get your point. But I disagree.

The whole upward trajectory of the labor movement in the world has come on the backs of brave fighters like Bailey seeing unfair working conditions and saying “No more.” Like they say, the only difference between the people who built the pyramids and the ones who built the Empire State Building is organized labor. And that’s what she’s doing here. Fighting for better working conditions for her sisters in the cheerleading industry.

Bailey’s lawsuit is like a modern day Oliver Twist, shining a light on the Victorian workhouse that is an NFL cheer squad. She is like a one woman Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, exposing the inhuman conditions in the meat processing factories where workers would fall into the hopper and get ground up with the rest of the cattle. She is Norma Rae in a belly shirt with pom poms. Starting a movement that will give empowerment and dignity to the oppressed. And for that she should be applauded.

Look, I even get why the Saints put those policies in place: To save themselves from a nightmare scenario of harassment claims if the cheerleaders started hanging out with players on the regular. But it’s insanely draconian to make them have to be the ones to block the guys or race out of restaurants in the middle of a meal and not the players. And call me old fashioned, but I believe that consensual sex between cheerleaders and football players is as American as Freedom of Speech, democracy and taking land away from the natives. There’s got to be a simpler solution where sexually active couples file papers with the HR department like Jim and Pam did with Toby to protect the team. Which would be a hell of a lot better than forcing the ladies to block the men and having them race out of the brunch place before they’ve finished their Eggs Benedict.

So you go, Bailey Davis. Keep fighting the power and strike a blow for laborers everywhere. Cheer workers of the world, unite!

@jerrythornton1