Five former NFL cheerleaders are suing the Houston Texans for unfair pay, alleged harassment, and for threatening to fire them when they complained.
Ashley Rodriguez, Morgan Wiederhold, Kelly Neuner, Hannah Turnbow, and Ainsley Parish sued the team on Friday in Houston federal court and held a press conference where they shared their grievances.
The women allege the team paid them less than the $7.25 per hour they were promised and did not compensate them for making public appearances or performing other tasks unrelated to the job.
Attorney Gloria Allred stands among former Houston Texans cheerleaders, from left to right, Ashley Rodriguez, Morgan Wiederhold, Kelly Neuner, Hannah Turnbow, and Ainsley Parish who are suing the Houston Texans for unfair pay, a T-shirt with their hourly wage is displayed above
Former Houston Texans cheerleader Hannah Turnbow wipes her tears as she speaks during a press conference Friday, announcing a lawsuit on behalf of five former NFL cheerleaders
They added that the Houston Texans created a hostile work environment where they suffered harassment, intimidation, were threatened to be fired when they voiced any complaints, and were forced to live in fear.
‘I and my fellow cheerleaders were treated as the lowest of the low,’ Hannah Turnbow said at a news conference.
‘The Houston Texans were paid thousands of dollars to have us show up at appearances at locations all over Texas with no security, no transportation and where our safety was not guaranteed,’ she added shedding tears.
Turnbow said that after she was left with abrasions on her shoulder when she was attacked by a fan at one game, the team told her ‘to just suck it up.’
‘We were harassed, bullied and body shamed for $7.25 an hour,’ said ex-cheerleader Ainsley Parish.
Texans spokeswoman Amy Palcic said the team is constantly evaluating its cheerleader program and makes changes ‘as needed to make the program enjoyable for everyone.’
‘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,’ Palcic said in a brief statement.
Prominent women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred is representing the former cheerleaders.
She says the women were paid ‘so little or not paid at all’ for much of the work they did because of their gender.
This is the second lawsuit to hit at the Houston Texans by cheerleaders, suing the NFL team for not paying the women minimum wage or overtime
The lawsuit is one of many by NFL cheerleaders, firing back at their teams for unfair pay, harassment, and intimidation, the Houston Texans players pictured above
‘Surely (Texans owner Bob) McNair and the Houston Texans can find it in their budget of hundreds of millions of dollars to pay these women a fair wage, not minimum wage,’ Allred said. ‘
‘I say, stop penny pinching. Pay these women what they deserve and make sure you pay them for every minute that they work,’ she added.
The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages.
This isn’t the first lawsuit by former cheerleaders to hit at the Houston Texans.
Last month, three ex-cheerleaders also filed suit in Houston federal court, accusing the Texans of not paying them minimum wage, not paying overtime wages and accusing a cheerleading supervisor of body shaming them.
These lawsuits are part of a series of recent complaints that have been made by cheerleaders against NFL teams across the country.
The New York Times reported last month that on a trip to Costa Rica for a photo shoot in 2013, Washington Redskins cheerleaders had their passports collected and they were forced to pose topless for a calendar photo shoot that included male spectators.
They were also asked to be escorts for sponsors at a nightclub.
Former cheerleaders with the Miami Dolphins and the New Orleans Saints also have filed recent discriminatory complaints and lawsuits against their ex-teams.
Last year, a federal judge in California dismissed a lawsuit that had been filed by a former San Francisco 49ers cheerleader who had accused the NFL and team owners of conspiring to suppress wages for cheerleaders.
Allred said she planned next week to present a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asking him to review the complaints being made by her clients and other cheerleaders about their working conditions.