Bailey Davis, a former New Orleans Saints cheerleader, is accusing the team of firing her due to gender discrimination for implementing a series of restrictive rules that treat cheerleaders differently because they are female.
In a complaint she filed against the team – reported by The New York Times – Davis alleges that the Saints treat female dancers differently than they treat male football players. Bailey has a prolific social media presence now, filling her Instagram page with glamour shots.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Saints Are Accused of Firing Bailey After She Posted a Photo They Considered Too Revealing
According to the New York Times, Bailey was a cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints when she “posted a photo of herself in a one-piece outfit in January” and was accused by the Saints of “breaking rules that prohibit cheerleaders from appearing nude, seminude or in lingerie.” She was also being investigated for allegedly attending a party with players from the Saints, an accusation she disputes, the Times reported.
As a result, she filed the discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accusing the team of treating female cheerleaders differently than male players. The Times reported that the team has a detailed set of rules barring cheerleaders from fraternizing with players. Among the alleged rules: blocking the players on social media, not speaking in detail to players, and not dining in the same restaurant with players, even if the cheerleader is there first, according to The Times, which says that Bailey’s EEOC complaint alleges this is a gender double standard.
2. Bailey Davis Says She Hopes Cheerleaders Are Treated Like Professional Athletes
Davis, who was a Saints dancer for three years, lives in Florida. “I’m hoping that a lot of professional cheerleaders and other professional women get behind me so we can make these rules the same, so we are treated like professional athletes in what we do and we’re respected,” Davis said of the EEOC complaint in an interview with the Herald-Tribune.
The Herald-Tribune recounted more of the alleged rules that Saints cheerleaders face. Among them, according to the newspaper, “cheerleaders also must refrain from using their last names on social media to make it harder for players to find and pursue them.” They also aren’t supposed to make eye contact with players, according to the newspaper, which added that the outfit that got Davis in trouble was a “black, lacy, one-piece dance outfit” but that she was accused of having a “dirty face” in it.
The team denied it has discriminated against Davis, telling The Herald Tribune: “The New Orleans Saints is an equal opportunity employer, and it denies that Ms. Davis was discriminated against because she is female. The Saints will defend these allegations in due course, and the Organization is confident that its policies and workplace rules will withstand legal scrutiny.”
3. Davis Posts Frequent Swimsuit Shots on Instagram, Where She Uses the Hashtag #Leveltheplayingfield
This is what Bailey’s Instagram profile reads: “Bailey Davis Ms | FL | to live will be an awfully big adventure✨ | Joshua 1:9 ?| #leveltheplayingfield.” The page is filled with swimsuit and glamour shots, as well as whimsical comments. One photograph showed her riding a bicycle in a red bikini. “((when all your friends back home are getting married & having babies but ur excited about ur new bike -with a basket )) ? ? #babyblue #newwhip #siestakey #lovefl #siesta #sunshine #bike #bikini #h&m,” the caption read.
In one post, she quoted singer Taylor Swift, writing, “Be the strong one who could get through anything….. be the one who never backed down.” That was on March 8. She also wrote, “#happyinternationalwomensday and also one month that I began a new adventure✈️ I’m so thankful for the strong, empowering women in my life. “Be fearless and kick ass”- my mom? ?” Other photos show her at the beach and in Hollywood.
She posted a photo in her cheerleader uniform and made reference to the dance team, writing, “love my dance family so much☺️?!! Not pictured: cupcakes, sweet tea and @chickfila gift cards ?.”
4. Davis Wrote That She Was ‘Happy for This Opportunity’
Bailey expressed enthusiasm about the cheerleading gig on social media before it ended. “If ya momma didn’t raise you a Saints fan she didn’t raise you right ?? so thankful for this opportunity #happy #playoffs @saints fans!!! #beatcarolina #momma #nfl,” she wrote in one post.
She wrote in December 2017 next to a photo of her in the cheerleading uniform, “Happy #backandgoldfriday !! see ya in Tampa??⚜️ #saints #whodat #beattampa.” One photo, taken in Mississippi, showed Bailey and her mother in matches Saints pajamas. “New year same us #coachmom #saintsgifts,” she wrote.
Yet another cheerleading outfit related post read, “Santa baby, slip a playoff under the tree for me…. been an awful good girl” ?? #saints #nfcsouth #christmas #blackandgold.”
5. Rules for Other NFL Teams’ Cheerleaders Provoked Controversy Before
It’s not the first time that NFL teams have been criticized for what some believe are draconian or puritanical rules for cheerleaders. For example, Deadspin previously reported that a cheerleader for the Cincinnati Bengals named Alexa Brenneman accused the team of violating federal employment laws. That action dates back to 2014.
However, it revealed some details about the team’s rules. Among the rules that were skewered by some critics: The Bengals cheerleaders were allegedly banned from wearing panties and were ordered not to have “slouching breasts.” The rule in question read, according to Deadspin, “No panties are to be worn under practice clothes or uniform, not even thong panties. Wear pantyhose to match skin tone (L’eggs). No Danskins/Dance type tights. No control top at practices or games. No exposed skin at ankles — pantyhose must extend down into socks. No slouching breasts. Support as needed. Black or nude seamless bra mandatory for games. (No lace).”
The team ultimately settled that class action lawsuit.