After claiming she was fired for posting a picture of herself wearing a lacy, one-piece outfit on her Instagram page, a former cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that the Saints make the all-female cheerleading squad and the all-male football team follow different sets of rules that favor players.
Bailey Davis, 22, claimed she was fired from the Saintsations cheerleading squad days after she shared the photo on her private social media account in January, according to documents obtained by PEOPLE.
Davis spoke to The New York Times and said that she had been accused of breaking a team rule that prohibits cheerleaders from appearing nude or partially nude or wearing lingerie on social media. She also claimed that at the time the photo was posted, team officials were looking into rumors that she had attended a party with members of the New Orleans Saints, which was also against the rules. Davis has denied those rumors.
The outlet reported that according to the Saints’ handbook, as well as internal documents, while the football players are not required to avoid contact with the cheerleaders, the cheerleaders are required to block the NFL players on social media and are also supposed to avoid them in public as well.
“It’s not fair that we’ve worked our whole lives to do this professional job, as well as the players have, and we’re stifled by these rules,” Davis told Today in an interview that aired Tuesday morning.
According to the morning show and the EEOC complaint, Saints cheerleaders are allegedly banned from any interaction from players either in person or online, and must even leave a restaurant or other public space if a player walks in.
In a statement to Today, the team said “the New Orleans Saints do not tolerate discrimination of any kind, and it specifically denies that Ms. Davis was treated any differently on account of her sex.”
According to The New York Times, Davis’ discrimination case attempts to prove that her termination violates an NFL rule prohibiting employee discrimination based on somebody’s “race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or sexual orientation.” However, the outlet also reported that the NFL has successfully argued in the past that cheerleaders aren’t employees of the league, but rather employees of individual teams.
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The NFL did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Although Davis told the Times she’s not expecting to get her job back as a result of filing the complaint, she hopes she can be an agent of change for other cheerleaders.
“I’m doing this for them so they can do what they love and feel protected and empowered, and be a female athlete and not be pushed to the side and feeling unimportant,” she explained.