A group of five former Houston Texans cheerleaders filed a lawsuit in Houston federal court Friday, alleging that the NFL team discriminated against them for their gender and failed to pay them a minimum wage.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the suit, filed by attorney Gloria Allred and Houston attorney Kimberly Spurlock, is the second filed against the Texans and the latest in a series of legal actions accusing NFL teams of failing to pay minimum wage and overtime, as well as subjecting cheerleaders to unsafe working conditions.
“While their beauty and cheers provided ample entertainment for fans, the Houston Texans cheerleaders were never treated like the integral part of the team that they are,” the lawsuit contends.
The suit accuses the Texans organization of failing to failing to pay overtime, intentionally inflicting emotional distress on the dance squad, breach of contract, and assault by threat of bodily injury. The accusers reportedly say they were paid the state’s minimum rate of $7.25 per hour during the regular season, but that they were required to be present for countless additional activities for which they were not paid.
They also allege that cheerleader coaches weight-shamed them and mocked their ethnic backgrounds. One Hispanic cheerleader said she was told to straighten her hair or they would find “another Latina to replace her.” Hannah Turnbow, the lead plaintiff in the case and a 2017 cheerleader, is also planning to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, according to the suit.
Allred acalled on players to speak out for their former co-workers.
“Do not stand silently by while these women who dance and work so hard to build enthusiasm and help you win are paid almost nothing while you earn millions of dollars for your efforts,” she said.