A former cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins claims she faced gender and religious discrimination during her time on the team, which saw coaches demand her not to discuss her virginity.
On Wednesday, Kristan Ann Ware—who spent three seasons with the team before leaving in 2017—filed a complaint against the Dolphins and the NFL with the Florida Commission on Human Relations alleging she was exposed to a hostile work environment that caused her severe emotional and physical distress.
Ware’s attorney did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Ware says the discrimination she experienced stemmed from a conversation she had with teammates in late 2015 where she admitted she was waiting for marriage to have sex, the Washington Post reports. While her fellow cheerleaders discussed the songs they liked to listen to when they were intimate, Ware explained it was choice she made for her religious beliefs. She felt free to express herself, Ware said, until she met with cheerleading coaches a few months later.
“Kristan told her teammates that she was waiting until she was married because of her personal relationship with God,” the complaint states, according to NBC. “She was sensitive to everyone around her having different beliefs and ideals so she further stated that it was her personal conviction.”
After Ware posted a picture on social media in April 2016 of her baptism, cheerleading officials pressed her on the photograph—which included a Bible verse in its caption—and then questioned her about her virginity.
“Let’s talk about your virginity,” cheerleader director Dorie Grogan allegedly said during an end-of-the-year meeting, according to the complaint obtained by NBC. “As far as we are concerned you have taken something that was once upon a time pure and beautiful and you’ve made it dirty.”
The comments caught Ware by surprise, she told The Post.
“It was like a bus hit me,” she said. “I was completely speechless. All that formed on my face were tears.”
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Grogan then allegedly said Ware “needed to become a woman” after saying Ware could only talk about her virginity in private. During the same meeting, the Post reports, Ware was asked to change into a bikini by her coaches to see if she was in shape for a calendar shoot. The request—coming just after the comments about her virginity—made Ware feel “vulnerable,” she said.
Though she reported the incident to the human resources department, Ware continued to experience mockery, according to NBC. During a rehearsal for a fashion show in 2016, she was given angel wings to wear, in reference to her faith. Ware also said a blog post she submitted to the Dolphins’ website removed all mentions of her religion, aside from a reference to God. The suit also states that players routinely reference their religion in social posts without complaint from the Dolphins, who also provide a team chaplain for players.
In a statement to PEOPLE, a representative for the Dolphins said: “We are seriously committed to providing a positive work environment for everyone associated with the organization,” the statement reads. “We hold every member of our organization to the same standards and do not discriminate as it relates to gender, race and religious beliefs.”
A representative for the team further tells PEOPLE: “In 2016, we were made aware of an incident with our cheerleaders that fell short of our standards and expectations. We immediately addressed the issue and reprimanded the supervisor who subsequently apologized to the entire team. We were in communication with Kristan throughout this time and she personally told us that she appreciated how it was handled.”
Ware has enlisted the services of Sara Blackwell, the same attorney who is representing Bailey Davis, a former cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints, who says she was fired for posting a photograph of herself to her private Instagram account in a lacy one-piece outfit.
“I’m always going to pursue dancing, it’s my dream and it’s what I love to do. I don’t expect the Saints to give me my job back, and I feel, as far as NFL cheer, that chapter has closed for me,” Davis told PEOPLE in March. “But I do hope all of this empowers other women to come forward with issues, especially when it comes to gender discrimination, in their workplace.”