MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A former Miami Dolphins cheerleader has filed a complaint naming the team and the NFL, claiming she was discriminated against because of her religion and gender.
In the complaint to the Florida Commission on Human Relations, Kristan Ware says she was “subjected to a hostile work environment for her expressions of faith in Christianity,” according to the New York Times.
“I got told things like you can’t mention God. I felt like I was walking on eggshells. But a football player can publicly announce whatever they believe like kneeling for political indifference or kneeling because he does have a relation with God and he wants to pray he as a right to do that,” said Ware.
Ware was a cheerleader for the team for three seasons ending in the spring of 2017.
In the complaint, Ware states she was held to different standard than players who often cite their faith publicly.
Shortly before the start of her third season with the team, Ware posted a picture of her being baptized on social media. She claims after doing so she was “a target of discipline, ridicule, harassment and abuse” from the team’s cheerleading director, Dorie Grogan, and other coaches and representatives of the squad.
As a Christian, Ware said she opted to wait until marriage to have sex. She said some of her coaches mocked her for being a virgin.
“My virginity got brought up and I said I am waiting for marriage…. And they said well, as far as we’re concerned, you’ve taken something that was once upon a time pure and beautiful and you’ve made it dirty,” said Ware.
Ware is one of many NFL cheerleaders who are publicly complaining about the double standards they’re expected to adhere to. “If you are in a restaurant you have to leave if a football player comes in…. if you were going to Walmart you had to be presentable in case someone recognized you and someone wanted a selfie,” said Ware.
During a rehearsal for a bikini fashion show in 2016, Ware claims she was dressed with angel wings as to poke fun at her virginity. She added that she was physically grabbed and verbally harangued by Grogan as she exited the runway.
The Dolphins said action was taken after Ware complained to Human Relations.
“In 2016, we were made aware of an incident with our cheerleaders that fell short of our standards and expectations. We immediately addressed the issue and reprimanded the supervisor who subsequently apologized to the entire team,” according to a team source.
“We are seriously committed to providing a positive work environment for everyone associated with the organization. We hold every member of our organization to the same standards and do not discriminate as it relates to gender, race and religious beliefs,” according to a statement from the team.
Ware is demanding arbitration from the Florida commission, and she also requested a hearing with N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell. She wants teams to change their policies so that players and cheerleaders are treated equally and takes steps to ensure they both are free to maintain and express their religious beliefs.