Disposed: judge approves arbitration for former Texans Cheerleaders' labor suit

By John Suayan | Jul 10, 2018

HOUSTON – A labor lawsuit pitting the Houston Texans against a group of former members of its cheerleading squad has been disposed, per recent Houston federal court records.

U.S. District Judge David Hittner issued an order dismissing the month-long legal battle in favor of arbitration on July 5.

Represented by prominent women’s rights attorney Gloria M. Allred, ex-Texans Cheerleaders Hannah Turnbow, Ainsley Parish, Morgan Wiederhold, Ashley Rodriguez, and Kelly Neuner sued the NFL franchise last month for underpaying them, as well as failing to address their complaints about mistreatment during their respective tenures as cheerleaders.

“Complaints regarding discrepancies in paychecks were ignored and threats of dismissal or consequences for voicing complaints were enough to silence even the staunchest of critics,” the suit, which was filed on June 1, said.

The Texans purportedly paid its cheerleaders $7.25 an hour, to which the plaintiffs asserted were “the same wages or less than employees at your local McDonald’s.”

The women further allege “they were subjected to intense scrutiny, harassment, threats of physical assaults, actual assaults by spectators, and cyberbullying by the coach and her staff,” as well as “were also forced to make a number of appearances (including out of state travel) without compensation.”

In response, the Texans, through their lead counsel David M. Gregory, filed an opposed motion to dismiss the litigation on June 13. According to the team, the women “signed valid employment agreements with (it) that contain mandatory arbitration provisions” and “(they) themselves acknowledge the validity of these agreements in their original complaint.”

Another former cheerleader was added as a co-plaintiff after the defendant formally responded to the allegations. The suit was amended on June 22 with claims squad manager Alto Gary forced Angelina Rosa to wear duct tape.

Rosa recalled Gary and her staff “taking duct tape and physically taping down her sides under her uniform without her consent.”

“Alto (Gary) then proceeded to dangle the duct tape in front of the team, including the other the plaintiffs, during a game, threatening them that ‘they were next’,” the amended complaint stated. “The plaintiffs were in a constant state of fear around Alto (Gary), anxiously anticipating whether they would be the next one subjected to her physical assaults.”

Hittner’s order came two days after the parties submitted an agreed stipulation of dismissal in favor of arbitration.

“In accordance with the arbitration agreements between the parties, the plaintiffs have agreed to voluntarily dismiss their claims in favor of binding arbitration,” the 4-page document says.

The suit was the second of two cases accusing the Texans of underpayment. An ex-cheerleader identified only as P.G.G. sued the team on May 21.

Court records show that P.G.G.’s case is still active.

Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas Case No. 4:18-CV-1797

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