Last year former Indianapolis Colts cheerleader Malori Wampler filed a lawsuit in an Indiana Federal Court against the team contesting her November 15, 2010, termination by the NFL club. Wampler was fired after Colts officials received a letter that included photos of Wampler - covered only in body paint - taken at two Playboy promotional events.
Below is an image of a copy of the unsigned letter and the photos that were included in the anonymous communication to the team.
In Wampler’s now-amended complaint, her attorney contends:
Prior to being hired, Wampler informed the Colts that she had been affiliated with the Playboy organization.
Wampler told the Colts that she did not pose nude for Playboy, but had attended a Playboy Mansion party and helped host golf outings.
The complaint also states that after Colts officials were informed of those facts, they determined that Wampler’s past employment by Playboy “was not an issue.”
Wampler has since claimed she was never paid for the body paint photos and never formally agreed with any representative of Playboy to allow photos of her from the events to be published. She also claims her name was never associated with the photos in question. (Though Wampler’s active participation in such events - which came before her Colts employ - might suggest some manner of tacit authorization to that effect.)
After Colts officials were forwarded the body paint photos of Wampler from the Playboy events as part of a November, 2010, anonymous letter that also questioned Wampler’s role as a team representative, she was immediately fired.
Wampler is suing on the basis of sexual and racial discrimination, and demanding to be reinstated to the Colts cheerleading squad with back pay. She also seeks additional financial damages to be determined as part of a jury trial proceeding - and attorney fees.
In her original claim of wrongful termination to the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, Wampler reported that a lawyer for the Colts, Daniel Emerson, told her the decision to fire her had “gone up the chain of command to the very top (Colts Owner Jim Irsay).”
Irsay has subsequently been included on a witness list, in the event of a jury trial, submitted to the court by Wampler’s attorney.
The Colts have pushed back hard against the charges, claiming in multiple, sworn declarations by team officials provided to the court that Wampler “lied” about having never posed nude for Playboy. Wampler was also deposed by the Colts, with an attorney for the team grilling her on the alleged inconsistency of many of the statements made in her attorney’s amended complaint.
With the Colts’ current, pending request for a “summary judgement” from the court, which is essentially asking the judge to immediately rule in their favor, the NFL club has shown no sign of being amenable to a settlement of any kind. Though in the seven months since Wampler filed her lawsuit the team has yet to convince the presiding judge in the case that Wampler’s complaint should not be put to a jury of her peers.
Though that may change soon.
Wampler’s attorney has until January 20, per a court deadline, to file a responsive brief to the Colts’ request for a summary judgement.
While the case may well essentially be dismissed as soon as this week - or next - the brief filed on Wampler’s behalf may also succeed in persuading the judge to keep the prospect of a jury trial alive.
Despite Irsay himself facing the prospect of testifying in such a jury trial, clearly the Colts aren’t banking on the latter happening.