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I'm sure the average NFL fan prefers to watch female cheerleaders, but how does hiring only women comply with our Civil Rights Act (which outlaws discrimination based on sex)?

For the record, some NFL teams have male cheerleaders, but I think it is easy to prove that most teams do not give serious consideration to men.

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    "I think it is easy to prove ...". So please prove it, or at least provide some evidence beyond mere assertion that what you say is the state of affairs is the actual state of affairs. Before we can speculate as to how they are breaking the law, you need to show there is at least a prima facie case that they are. – Dale M Jan 13 at 0:30
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    Dallas Cowboys' tryouts FAQ look slanted towards women. If you think I am wrong and most teams would be equally willing to hire men, please make that an answer. – bobuhito Jan 13 at 0:41
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    That's exactly the sort of thing you should have in your question - you're the one making the allegation, you need to provide the evidence. – Dale M Jan 13 at 0:49
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    A point that you're missing is that nobody has actually been discriminated against in employment. The law does not require businesses to be sex-neutral, it only requires not using sex as a basis for employment-related decisions. The evidence indicates that they do comply with the law. – user6726 Jan 13 at 1:26
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    I thought there were lawsuit case precedents here and was simply hoping an answer would reference one for me. Hooters has settled at least twice for doing something similar, but I don't understand why opportunists don't keep piling on lawsuits. – bobuhito Jan 13 at 1:54
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how does hiring only women comply with our Civil Rights Act (which outlaws discrimination based on sex)?

It is compliant. The Civil Rights Act includes an exception where the discrimination or limitation based on sex (or any other protected category) "is a bona fide occupational qualification for employment". That exception is located at the end of 42 USC 2000e-3(b).

Although literally referring to employer's publishing of that preference, the very existence of that statutory exception implies a permission to discriminate [for certain occupations] on the basis of sex. At the outset, it would be unreasonable to allow the employer to explicitly state his criteria for hiring and yet be prohibited to implement them.

But a more important reason for that exception is the premise of bona fide occupational qualification. That premise indicates that the legitimate purpose of the employment at issue takes priority over the general intent of the Civil Rights Act.

The actual & occupational purpose of cheerleading in the NFL context is not to shake pom poms and do choreography on field grass, but to amuse men, who comprise the vast majority of the customer base in the football business. Accordingly, the issue is not whether males are fit or unable to cheerlead, but that male cheerleaders simply would not amuse the average football fan. The occupational purpose would be frustrated if females were replaced with males.

The legislative intent of the Civil Rights Act is to preclude discrimination for employment where the protected category (be it sex, religion, etc.) is irrelevant to the actual fulfillment of the occupational purpose.

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  • Thank you for explaining the BFOQ exception and that a team can thereby only audition women if they have "to amuse men" in the job description. I believe "to shake pom poms and do choreography on field grass" is also in the job description (though you remove it completely) but including them both still probably passes the BFOQ test. By the way, I assume you believe that Hooters did not need to settle its similar lawsuits (i.e., you believe that Hooters would have won at trial with a good lawyer)...or please let me know if the Hooters case is somehow more difficult. – bobuhito Jan 13 at 13:46
  • @bobuhito The pom poms & choreography might as well be in the job description and even qualify as indispensable qualifications (excuse the redundancy). However, those are insufficient for the ultimate purpose of cheerleading. I am not knowledgeable of neither the intricacies of the Hooters case(s) nor of the arguments advanced therein. That being said, the judicial system (at least in the US) is so deteriorated/corrupt that the outcome of many, many, cases have little or nothing to do with the parties' merits, their admitted evidence, or their support on statutes & legal precedent. – Iñaki Viggers Jan 13 at 14:51
  • sorry your good response is damaged by gratuitous slam at the whole system of justice. – George White Jan 14 at 0:59
  • @GeorgeWhite "sorry your good response is damaged by gratuitous slam at the whole system of justice". Thank you I guess? ... thank you. If by response you mean the answer, there is no good reason for "damage". The answer is premised on U.S. legislation and makes no reference to the judiciary whatsoever. Or if you are referring to my reply to OP's follow up inquiry, the "slam" is not gratuitous at all. It is based on my own personal experience as well as that of many others who also have fallen prey of unfit judges. I am not willing to mislead the OP for the sake of political correctness. – Iñaki Viggers Jan 14 at 9:10
  • @IñakiViggers If you appended, to your very good answers - "I personally have been dealt with unfairly and unethically by numerous judges and can cite cases in the news of corrupt judges around the country, and I advise everyone to be wary" or words to that effect, I would think that would get your point across. – George White Jan 15 at 5:34
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The NFL has had male components to cheerleader teams for some time, though when is debatable. The first NFL team to have Cheerleaders was the Baltimore Colts, which was a component of the mostly male Baltimore Colts Marching Band in 1954, though the first permanant NFL co-ed cheer team would be the Baltimore Ravens cheer team in 1998. Co-ed cheer teams in the United States are not unusual and most high schools and all college cheer teams in the U.S. are co-ed, despite the sport having a 95-97% female population as a whole. Men are often used on the team as the base for stunting (the pyramids) and will lift the flier (the people on top of the formation (typically a woman) up and act as support while the base will support her and the spotters (also typically men) will act as a human safety net for the flier.

Recent compittions will actually make some more technically difficult stunting techniques illegal for an all female team but legal for a co-ed team, as on average, men tend to be stronger than women and thus more than capable of holding the weight of the fliers, who are often the smallest members of the team.

And most male cheerleaders are not the small dudes. The Wikipedia entry for cheerleading features a picture of the West Point (Army military academy) stunting for Donald Rumsfeld and the men all look like they would have had a decent go at playing on the football team (all U.S. military academies require students to participate in an extra-curricular sport).

As discussed in another answer, there is some legal leeway for the entertainment industry to discriminate based on entertainment needs. For a non-sports example, a director making a film based on Shakespeare's Othello, may pass on over qualified Shakespearian actor Patrick Stewart for the titular role based solely on Mr. Stewart's skin color, because the titular role is a man of African decent (incidentally, Stewart did apply to play another role in a film production of Othello, but the director decided to cast him as Othello, with the rest of the cast being entirely of African decent... the play is about Othello being of a different ethnicity than the rest of the characters, so it worked here.).

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