Ex-Dolphins cheerleader claims NFL discriminated against her because of her faith

LOS ANGELES -- As a Miami Dolphins cheerleader, Kristan Ware was a fan favorite. But she claims the league and the team discriminated against her because she was a Christian.

"I got told things like, 'You can't mention God,'" Ware said. "I felt like I was walking on eggshells. But yet a football player can publicly announce whatever he believes in whether it's kneeling for political indifference or kneeling because he does have a relation with God and he wants to pray before a game, he has a right to do that."

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Kristan Ware CBS News

According to a complaint filed with the Florida Commission on Human Relations, Ware says she was "blatantly discriminated against based on her religion and gender" and there was "pervasive and severe abuse and harassment" by the team director.

"My virginity got brought up and I said, 'You know 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,'" Ware said.

She is one of many NFL cheerleaders who are publicly complaining about double standards tied to their weight, their wardrobe and their conduct.

"If you are in a restaurant you have to leave if a football player comes in," Ware said. "If you were going to Walmart you had to be presentable just in case someone recognized you and wanted a selfie."

Bailey Davis, a former New Orleans Saints cheerleader filed a complaint after she was fired for a social media post. Ware says her complaints to higher ups weren't taken seriously.

"I had to make the choice, you know, do I lay down the uniform even though it is something that I love to stand up for my faith or do I stay on the team and be silenced?" Ware said.

Ware quit before finishing her third year with the team. The Dolphins say after human resources was made aware of one of the incidents in the complaint, a supervisor was reprimanded and apologized to the cheerleading team. The NFL says everyone including cheerleaders, has the right to work in a positive and respectful environment free from harassment. The state now has six months to investigate the complaint. 

  • Mireya Villarreal

    Mireya Villarreal is a CBS News correspondent.