Former Houston Texans cheerleaders sue claiming harassment and unfair pay

NFL cheerleader's Instagram post gets her fired
NFL cheerleader's Instagram post gets her fired

Five former NFL cheerleaders are suing the Houston Texans for alleged harassment and unfair pay practices.

"We were harassed, we were bullied and we were body-shamed for $7.25 an hour," said former cheerleader Ainsley Parish, who is among the five who are suing. "The Houston Texans should not have given us a uniform if they did not want us to become an army."

The lawsuit, which was announced in a press conference on Friday, is being brought by prominent attorney Gloria Allred.

"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 during a press conference. "But their dreams were shattered by the reality of their lives as Houston Texans cheerleaders."

Allred said the women were harassed, intimidated and forced to live in fear." She said they were threatened with being fired if they spoke out. The cheerleaders were also instructed not to speak with players and weren't paid for making public appearances.

One of the cheerleaders, Hannah Turnbow, was allegedly assaulted by a fan and was told to "suck it up and act like nothing had happened," according to Allred. She said there are photos of the injury the cheerleader sustained.

Turnbow said she and her teammates were expected to attend events where no transportation or security was provided.

The five former cheerleaders, who were part of the squad as recently as the 2017 season, are filing individual lawsuits versus pursuing a class action.

Last week, three different former cheerleaders filed a lawsuit against the Texans over pay and treatment. Those women are seeking class action status.

The Houston Texans responded to both lawsuits with the following statement:

"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."

Related: NFL cheerleader files complaint over 'discriminatory' measures governing conduct

The former cheerleaders are the latest to allege that they were unfairly treated and paid while representing NFL teams.

In March, a former New Orleans Saints cheerleader filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging gender discrimination by the NFL team.

In her complaint, Jacalyn Bailey Davis said female cheerleaders and male players were held to different standards of personal conduct. She also said cheerleaders were told not to interact with players, to block them on social media and to leave a restaurant or party if an NFL player was there or showed up after them.

An attorney for the Saints said in a statement that the team "denies that Ms. Davis was discriminated against because she is female."

The statement said the team's "policies and workplace rules will withstand legal scrutiny."

Cheerleaders for the New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders, and Buffalo Bills have also sued their respective NFL teams demanding fair pay.

Cheerleaders for the Buccaneers, Raiders, Bengals and Jets reached settlements with the teams.

The cheerleaders for the Bills filed a class action suit against the team, the NFL and several intermediary companies. The case, which was initially brought in 2014, currently isn't moving forward because one of the companies being sued went bankrupt.

The Bills were not immediately available for comment on Friday about the case.

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