No Sweatpants in Public: Inside the Rule Books for N.F.L. Cheerleaders

Leslie A. Lanusse, a lawyer representing the Saints, said the franchise strives to treat all employees fairly and denied the franchise had discriminated against Ms. Davis because of her gender. “At the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum, the Saints will defend the organization’s policies and workplace rules,” Ms. Lanusse said in an email.

The N.F.L. declined to comment. The Ravens did not respond to questions about their current policies. The Bengals said they had updated their rules for cheerleaders and no longer have precise weight guidelines.

Unlike N.F.L. players, who are unionized and generally free to promote themselves in any way they choose, cheerleaders are part-time workers with few benefits. A few teams, including the Chicago Bears, the Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers, do not employ cheerleaders. Most of the more than two dozen other teams with cheerleaders outline the rules and restrictions in the cheerleaders’ contracts and handbooks.

Other rules are applied as a specific reaction to an ever-changing social environment. Cheerleaders who complain about the conditions are told that they can easily be replaced. The threats are not empty. In…

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