Last month, former Saints cheerleader Bailey Davis filed a discrimination complaint against the NFL after she was fired for posting an Instagram photo of herself in a bathing suit. The photo violated a Saints rule forbidding cheerleaders from “appearing nude, seminude or in lingerie,” which is an equally regressive and nonsensical rule, considering that, in the photo she was punished for, Davis was wearing more than most cheerleaders do while performing. Former Dolphins cheerleader Kristan Wade also filed a similar lawsuit after she says she was let go for discussing her choice not to have sex before marriage.
Both women hired Florida lawyer Sara Blackwell to represent them, and today, Blackwell sent a settlement letter to the NFL, offering to drop both cases in exchange for $1 settlements for Davis and Wade and a “good-faith” meeting between Roger Goodell and current NFL cheerleaders to “prepare a set of binding rules and regulations which apply to all N.F.L. teams.” Blackwell spoke to the New York Times, and said that the NFL has until May 4 to respond.
“We’re not asking them to admit fault, or to admit guilt, or even admit that there is anything wrong. But if they do want and expect that cheerleaders should have a fair working environment, as they have stated, then it doesn’t make any common sense why the answer would be no.”
The settlement would also keep NFL teams with cheerleading squads from disbanding them for at least five years, in an effort to keep teams from retaliating against cheerleaders who’ve spoken out. Of course, settling the case in exchange for nothing but a meeting with Goodell is a highly risky proposition, and Blackwell could possibly be blowing all of her leverage for nothing. A “good faith” meeting doesn’t guarantee any results, and she’d essentially be relying on the largesse of Roger Goodell and the NFL machine.
“I understand that they could meet with us, patronize us and do nothing in the end,” Ms. Blackwell said. “I understand that risk. But it’s a risk we’re willing to take to try to have real change.”