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Editorial
Meet the NFL Cheerleaders Fighting Back Against Unfair Pay And Harassment
Flickr//Texans_vs_Denver-28
Leah Thomas
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Five former Houston Texan cheerleaders are suing the organization for harassment and unfair pay.

Ainsley Parish, one of the five women filing lawsuits, described the allegations: "We were harassed, we were bullied, and we were body-shamed for $7.25 an hour."

The lawsuit was announced by attorney Gloria Allred at a press conference on Friday.

"These women all had the same dream. They all aspired to be an integral part of the Houston Texans. And they looked forward to promoting the team," Allred said. "But their dreams were shattered by the reality of their lives as Houston Texans cheerleaders."

Allred claimed the cheerleaders were "harassed, intimidated, and forced to live in fear." She went on to say they were not allowed to speak to the football players and were not compensated for their many public appearances. And according to one former cheerleader, the girls were expected to find their own rides to events where they were not given security.

Allred said that the women received threats of being fired if they told anyone they were mistreated.

Hannah Turnbow, another former cheerleader, was allegedly told to "suck it up and act like nothing had happened" after being assaulted by a fan -- an assault that Allred claimed can be proved by photos of the cheerleader and her injury.

"The Houston Texans should not have given us a uniform if they did not want us to become an army," Parish said.

The five cheerleaders are filing individual lawsuits. These women were members of the squad as recently as 2017.

And just last week, three different former Houston Texan cheerleaders filed a class action lawsuit against the Texans citing unfair pay and mistreatment. 

This isn't the first set of lawsuits against NFL teams by former cheerleaders.

The New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, and the Cincinnati Bengals have all been sued by cheerleaders alleging unfair pay.

And in March, a former New Orleans Saints' cheerleader filed an official complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming the organization exhibited gender discrimination.

The cheerleader, Jacalyn Bailey Davis, claimed female cheerleaders and male football players had distinctly different standards for personal conduct. Davis alleged cheerleaders were not allowed to speak with players -- they were even forced to block them on social media and leave a public place if an NFL player showed up after they were already there.

The Saints denied the allegations and claimed their team's "policies and workplace rules will withstand legal scrutiny."

An attorney for the organization also released a statement saying that the team "denies that Ms. Davis was discriminated against because she is female."

The Buccaneers, Raiders, Bengals, and the Jets all reached settlements with their former cheerleaders.

The Houston Texans released a statement in response to the recent lawsuits filed against their cheerleading program:

"We are proud of the cheerleader program and have had hundreds of women participate and enjoy their experience while making a positive impact in the local community. We are constantly evaluating our procedures and will continue to make adjustments as needed to make the program enjoyable for everyone."

 

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