Redskins cheerleaders say 2013 trip required topless photo shoot in front of sponsors | Top.HowFN

How far can NFL teams go in their mandatory requirements for cheerleaders?

A week-long 2013 trip to Costa Rica for a calendar shoot may have tested the limits.

In a detailed story by the New York Times, several unnamed Washington Redskins cheerleaders describe the surprises that awaited them at an adults-only resort in Central America.

Some squad members were required to be topless. Others wore only body paint. Although there would be no nudity in photos selected for the calendar, the cheerleaders weren't told there would be spectators at the shoot -- namely high-profile Redskins sponsors and FedEx Field suite holders. All of them men.

Also during the trip, nine cheerleaders were told by the squad's director -- after a 14-hour day of photo shoots and dance practices -- they were chosen to accompany the sponsors to an event that night at a local nightclub.

“They weren’t putting a gun to our heads, but it was mandatory for us to go,” one of the cheerleaders told the Times. “We weren’t asked, we were told."

Their participation did not involve sex, the cheerleaders said, but they felt as if the arrangement amounted to “pimping us out.” What bothered them was their team director’s demand that they go as sex symbols to please male sponsors, which they did not believe should be a part of their job.

The cheerleaders in the story were not named, as they were required to sign confidentiality agreements with the team when they were hired.

Stephanie Jojokian, who is the director and choreographer for the Redskins’ cheerleaders, denied the night club visit was mandatory.

“I was not forcing anyone to go at all,” Jojokian told the Times. “I’m the mama bear, and I really look out for everybody, not just the cheerleaders. It’s a big family. We respect each other and our craft. It’s such a supportive environment for these ladies.”

The night club visit was one in a series of events that some cheerleaders told the Times went over the line.

After the story was published, an interactive feature on the team's website that mirrored the 'hot or not' game for its cheerleaders was taken down. A request for comment from the Redskins by USA TODAY Sports was not immediately returned.

The story of the Costa Rica trip is one of several to come to light in the past few months that have drawn attention to the way NFL teams treat their cheerleaders.

They're often asked to work long hours practicing, perform at games, do community service work and agree to numerous restrictions on their personal life -- all while being paid modest sums of money.

Last month, a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the team and the NFL, alleging she was harassed because of her religious views about maintaining her virginity before marriage.

In another instance, a New Orleans Saints cheerleader says she was fired because of a photo she posted on her private Instagram account and because she was alleged to have been at a party where Saints players also were present.

Last week, those two former cheerleaders -- Kristan Ware and Bailey Davis -- said they would settle their claims for $1 each if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would have a "good faith" meeting with a group of their peers.

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