Former Houston Texans cheerleader files class-action lawsuit over pay, body-shaming

Photo of the 2017 Houston Texans Cheerleader tryouts
Photo of the 2017 Houston Texans Cheerleader tryouts

HOUSTON – A former Houston Texans Cheerleader has filed a class-action lawsuit against the team and the cheer coach, alleging she didn't receive compensation for all her work or overtime, and that several cheerleaders were subjected to body-shaming tactics.

The woman, who was employed as a cheerleader from April 2017 through last month, said she was paid $7.25 an hour, but that she was not paid for the following activities required by the team:

  • tweeting every 48 hours during the off-season
  • tweeting multiple times a day during the regular season
  • monitoring email continuously to respond to work matters
  • responding to messages from coaches and the cheerleader's digital team within 10 minutes
  • spending multiple hours in a gym
  • getting a spray tan before every game and event
  • signing thousands of HTC calendars
  • traveling to and from events around the state
  • being on call 24/7

The lawsuit claims the cheerleaders were required to work more than 40 hours a week and were not compensated.

The woman is asking for back pay equal to the amount of unpaid compensation during their employment period.

In the lawsuit, the cheerleader coach is accused of telling a cheerleader she had "belly jelly" and she was a "chunky cheek." The coach also is accused of duct taping a cheerleader's "stomach skin underneath her shorts," then showing the rest of the cheerleading squad how much "better it looks."

Other allegations in the lawsuit include that the cheer coach asked a cheerleader if she "gained her freshman 15" and that she told a Hispanic cheerleader that she should not straighten her hair or else she would "find another Latina girl to replace her."

Several cheerleaders were physically assaulted by fans, the lawsuit claims.

According to the lawsuit, several cheerleaders banded together to try to change the coach's policies and activities, but the coach treated them worse, and all of them did not make the 2018 squad after trying out.

The Houston Texans sent KPRC2 a statement that read, "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."