A former Miami Dolphins cheerleader is filing a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations, alleging that she faced hostility and retaliation from Dolphins cheerleading coaches and was discriminated against on behalf of her gender and religion.
According to the Washington Post, Kristan Ann Ware says she was told by two Dolphins cheerleading coaches during an April 2016 work review that she could no longer discuss her vow to forgo sex before marriage. Ware lasted one more season with the team before leaving.
Ware alleges that the team director, Dorie Grogan, told her that she could talk about her virginity in private, but never around the team, and also stated that Ware needed to become a woman. Before the end of the meeting, Ware says she was photographed in a bikini -- which the coaches said was needed to prove Ware was "calendar ready" -- while she attempted to hold back tears.
"It was like a bus hit me," Ware said, per the Post. "I was completely speechless. All that formed on my face were tears."
Ware says that Grogan, during another photo shoot, told her to play with pieces of fruit "like they were balls" and to "make love to the camera." Ware additionally alleges that Brooke Nix, the team choreographer, told her regarding her religiously motivated vow to forgo premarital sex, "I think it is still beautiful, but you need to stop talking about it."
When it comes to her religion, Ware says the Dolphins treated her differently than members of the football team. Players were not reprimanded or censored when using religious language, she says, indicating that female employees representing the team were held to a different standard than male employees.
Ware also told the Post that former New Orleans Saints cheerleader Bailey Davis' Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint, , played a role in her coming forward. Ware has hired the same attorney (Sara Blackwell) as Davis.
"If it wasn't for Bailey speaking out, I would have never been able to find Sara," Ware said. "If it wasn't for God healing me and using my pain for his purpose, I would have never been courageous enough to tell my story. Right now is the perfect time to tell my story."
Reached for comment regarding the allegations, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the Post, "The NFL and all NFL member clubs support fair employment practices. Everyone who works in the NFL, including cheerleaders, has the right to work in a positive and respectful environment that is free from any and all forms of harassment and discrimination and fully complies with state and federal laws. Our office will work with our clubs in sharing best practices and employment-related processes that will support club cheerleading squads within an appropriate and supportive workplace."