Three Cheers for Wrongful Termination and Discrimination Lawsuits Against NFL

wrongful terminationTwo cheerleaders have filed lawsuits against the National Football League for what they say was wrongful termination, discrimination and harassment. One cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints was dismissed after she posted a bathing suit photo of herself online, and another for the Miami Dolphins left after she was allegedly harassed for publicly discussing her choice to remain abstinent until marriage.

What do they most hope to get out of the lawsuits? Change.

In a surprise turn of events, their attorney recently offered to drop the lawsuits in exchange for a $1 settlement and a face-to-face talk with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, according to an article from The Nation. They want a good faith conversation about how to set clear guidelines going forward that are fair to all employees. The two plaintiffs have very different stories that they allege concluded with the same result: discrimination and loss of their dream jobs. The New Orleans cheerleader discussed a pattern of alleged sex discrimination, with different rules and expectations being applied to jobs held by women versus those held by men. It’s clear to our experienced L.A. wrongful termination lawyers that such disparities could be in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states that it is unlawful for an employer to set different “terms, conditions, or privileges of employment” based on the sex of the employee. Yet plaintiff contends she and the other cheerleaders are held to a much higher set of standards than the male football players. She claims she first faced disciplinary action from the team after rumors circulated that she was at a party where a football player was also present, according to the New York Times. This would be in violation of an anti-fraternization rule, in which cheerleaders must actively avoid interaction with players in-person or online, with no such rule existing for the players to do the same. This has a created an environment where players are permitted to pursue cheerleaders by entering spaces where they might be or contacting them on social media, and cheerleaders are punished for not properly deflecting their attempts at contact. Though her social media accounts were set to private per team rules, a photo she posted of herself in a one-piece swimsuit was considered a second strike after the party accusations, which were never proven.

The Miami Dolphins cheerleader alleges she was harassed for public expressions of her faith, including the revelation that she planned to wait until marriage to be sexually active. She claims this led to her being mocked on the job and told by leadership to keep quiet about her faith-based decisions. Plaintiff contends this was not only a form of religious discrimination, but sex discrimination as well, as the male football players are actively allowed to kneel in prayer before games and talk about their faith in public without recourse.

Our attorneys commend these women for using their cases and their platform to try to bring about bigger changes within the league. We also believe no woman should ever have to make such a personal sacrifice to fight unfair practices. That’s why our law firm is committed to fighting harassment, sexual discrimination, and wrongful termination in the workplace. We will use our years of experience to protect your rights and build toward a future where a place of work can be safe and productive for everyone.

Contact the employment attorneys at Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Orange County, Riverside and Los Angeles. Call 714-937-2020.

Additional Resources:

Inside the ‘Messed Up’ Cheer Culture, April 25, 2018, People

More Blog Entries:

California Employment Rights Championed for Cheerleaders, Aug. 12, 2015, Los Angeles Employment Lawyers Blog