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By Porter Wells
The ex-NFL cheerleader who last month filed a sex discrimination charge against the league now says she’s willing to settle her claim for $1 and a face-to-face meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. That meeting also should help to kickstart a new set of rules for all teams to follow in their employment of cheerleaders, according to the proposal.
New Orleans Saints cheerleaders have different social media and fraternization policies from Saints players, Bailey Davis said in her March 26 complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Since the complaint’s filing and publicity, cheerleaders from other teams have come forward to share similar stories of working under restrictive and demeaning rules meant to “protect” them from over-eager players and fans.
The settlement letter was composed by Davis’ attorney, Sara Blackwell, and obtained by Bloomberg Law. The letter, dated April 25, makes five basic demands: First, the NFL will pay $1 each to Davis and Kristan Ware, a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader also represented by Blackwell, to settle their claims of gender discrimination.
Second, the NFL will arrange for a four-hour sit-down meeting to include Davis, Ware, and Goodell and counsel. Two other cheerleaders, not yet chosen, but meant to be from “two other NFL teams,” would participate in the meeting as well. Third, during the meeting, NFL representatives will “actively and in good faith” engage in discussion on the unlawful and “lawful, but egregious,” employment practices NFL cheerleaders work under.
Fourth, the meeting also would begin the preparation for a set of “binding rules and regulations which apply to all NFL teams” to correct those employment practices. And finally, the NFL would promise that the teams won’t disband cheerleading squads wholesale in retaliation for the discrimination complaints. The letter says the offer is valid through May 4.
NFL employees have “the right to work in a positive and respectful environment that is free from any and all forms of harassment and discrimination,” the NFL said in a written statement quoted in Blackwell’s letter.
If the NFL is “serious” about that statement, then it should find the settlement demand “acceptable,” Blackwell wrote in the letter. It’s a demand that’s “virtually free for the NFL and the NFL teams and it will ensure the positive and respectful environment the NFL states is the right of the NFL cheerleaders.”
Counsel for the NFL and the Saints didn’t immediately return Bloomberg Law’s request for comment.
The Blackwell Firm in Sarasota, Fla., represents Davis and Ware. Adams and Reese LLP in New Orleans represents the Saints. Proskauer Rose LLP in New York represents the NFL.
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