An ex-NFL cheerleader claims she was harassed, mocked, and discriminated against for being outspoken about her Christian faith and disclosing to her teammates that she planned on remaining a virgin until marriage.
Kristan Ann Ware cheered for the Miami Dolphins for three years and said she loved her job, until she felt the harassment over her virginity was "unbearable."
She filed a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations claiming she was the victim of a hostile work environment after fellow cheerleaders learned of her virginity. The former cheerleader said the harassment peaked after she posted photos of her baptism captioned with a Bible verse on social media.
In April 2016, cheerleading director Dorie Grogan allegedly advised Ware to no longer speak of her virginity in front of the team.
"Let’s talk about your virginity," Grogan allegedly said at an interview for returning cheerleaders. "As far as we are concerned you have taken something that was once upon a time pure and beautiful and you've made it dirty."
The incident was confirmed by a team source to NBC News, who said the team was "aware of the incident" and that Grogan was subsequently reprimanded.
"In 2016, we were made aware of an incident with our cheerleaders that fell short of our standards and expectations," said the source. "We immediately addressed the issue and reprimanded the supervisor, who subsequently apologized to the entire team."
Grogan is still employed by the team.
"I loved my job," said the 27-year-old. "It was great, but after that things just started to change. ... It became unbearable."
Ware is currently "seeking arbitration from the Florida commission and a meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell," according to NBC News, and has argued that "female cheerleaders should be allowed to express their faith publicly the way the male players do."
Sara Blackwell, a lawyer representing Ware, said her client refrained from witnessing or attempting to convert anyone to her faith while on the job and only disclosed her virginity after she was asked about her "sex playlist" by fellow cheerleaders in October 2015. Ware is "too honest to lie," said Blackwell.
"Kristin told her teammates that she was waiting until she was married because of her personal relationship with God," the complaint reads. "She was sensitive to everyone around her having different beliefs and ideals so she further stated that it was her personal conviction."
"She never once witnessed to anyone, she never once asked anyone if they believed in Jesus," claims Blackwell. "She is the friendliest person you will ever meet. If she talked about her faith in God, it’s because that’s who she is, not because she is trying to convert anyone."
After complaining to human resources, Ware says she was still harassed by girls on the team. "At a 2016 rehearsal for a fashion show, during which the cheerleaders walked the runway in bikinis, Ware said she was teased by being made to don a big set of 'angel wings,'" reports NBC News.
The open Christian also claims a "Motivation Monday" post she wrote for the Dolphins' blog was scrubbed of all references to God and Christ.
"The NFL and all NFL member clubs support fair employment practices," the NFL said in a statement. "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."