HOUSTON — Five former N.F.L. cheerleaders sued the Houston Texans on Friday, claiming the team failed to fully compensate them as required by law and subjected them to a hostile work environment in which they were harassed and intimidated.
The lawsuit, filed in a federal court here, accuses the franchise of paying the women less than the $7.25 per hour they were promised, not compensating them for making public appearances or performing other tasks related to their jobs, and creating a workplace where the women were threatened with being fired for voicing any complaints.
“I and my fellow cheerleaders were treated as the lowest of the low,” Hannah Turnbow, one of the former cheerleaders, said at a news conference. “The Houston Texans were paid thousands of dollars to have us show up at appearances at locations all over Texas with no security, no transportation and where our safety was not guaranteed.”
The lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages. It is the second such lawsuit filed against the Texans.
Turnbow said that after she was attacked by a fan at one game, and left with abrasions on her shoulder, the team told her “to just suck it up.”
“We were harassed, bullied and body-shamed for $7.25 an hour,” said Ainsley Parish, another former cheerleader.
Amy Palcic, a Texans spokeswoman, said the team was constantly evaluating its cheerleader program and makes changes “as needed to make the program enjoyable for everyone.”
Last month, another former cheerleader filed suit in Houston federal court, accusing the Texans of not paying her minimum wage and not paying overtime wages. She also accused a cheerleading supervisor of body-shaming. That suit may become a class-action case.
These lawsuits are part of a series of recent complaints that have been made by cheerleaders against N.F.L. teams across the country.
The New York Times reported last month that on a trip to Costa Rica for a photo shoot in 2013, Washington Redskins cheerleaders had their passports collected by the team, were forced to be topless for a calendar photo shoot that included male spectators, and were asked to be escorts for sponsors at a nightclub