Texans face new cheerleader lawsuit alleging unfair working conditions, discrimination
HOUSTON – A second lawsuit against the Houston Texans was announced Friday.
Women's rights attorney Gloria Allred held a news conference to discuss the lawsuit, which involves five former NFL cheerleaders.
The lawsuit claims unfair working conditions and sex discrimination.
Holding a white T-shirt with “$7.25” on the front, Allred said that is the amount that five former Texans cheerleaders earned per hour.
"The Houston Texans organization is worth billions of dollars. It pays its players hundreds of millions of dollars a year, while paying these hardworking women $7.25 an hour -- less than they would earn if they worked at McDonald's, less than what the parking attendants at the stadium earn," Allred said.
Allred said five clients, all former Texans cheerleaders, were paid “minimum wage for maximum effort.”
A former Houston Texans cheerleader filed a class-action lawsuit in May 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 April 2018, 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 offseason
- Tweeting multiple times a day during the regular season
- Monitoring email continuously to respond to work matters
- Responding to messages from coaches and the cheerleaders' 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 across the state
- Being on call 24/7
Former Texans cheerleader Kelly Neuner said the organization took advantage of her by not paying for some work activities, such as practices, travel expenses and training camp.
"Little did I know that the Houston Texans would take advantage of me and my teammates," Neuner said. "I remember feeling puzzled and angry and asking why we didn't deserve to be paid more than $7.25 an hour for what was a demanding job."
The first lawsuit claims the cheerleaders were required to work more than 40 hours a week and were not compensated.
Neuner 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," and then showing the rest of the cheerleading squad how much "better it looks."
Allred’s law firm in Los Angeles, along with the Spurlock Law Firm in Humble, filed the second lawsuit on behalf of the former cheerleaders. It claims discrimination. It also indicates the coach who supervised the cheerleader's body shamed the women, once remarking, “I see a lot of jiggle jiggle.” The lawsuit also asks for back pay.
Other allegations in the second 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 second 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 failed to make the 2018 squad after trying out.
The Houston Texans sent KPRC2 a statement that reads, "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."
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