The U.S. Women’s National Team filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation (“USSF”) alleging that they do not receive equal pay compared to the men’s team. In addition, they argued that their work conditions are not as favorable as the men’s conditions. This has been an ongoing fight among female athletes for years. U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner ruled in favor of the women’s soccer team, saying that the class representatives had standing to pursue a lawsuit and certified three classes, and that the female players were paid less per game compared to the male players.
According to team co-captain, Megan Rapino, the decision validated their equal-pay campaign. The judge’s decisions essentially rejected the USSF’s argument that there was no discrimination because of the number of female players who earned more than some of the men’s players during that time. However, according to Klausner, there was no case law to support the premise.
The USSF has argued that the differences in compensation between the men’s and women’s teams was due to varying pay structures in the collective bargaining agreements, which are negotiated by the players on the team. However, according to the lawsuit, the USSF charters more flights for male players, which means that they have more comfortable accommodations and opportunities for rest. The men also experience fewer incidences of lost luggage. This ruling may encourage the USSF and its players to revisit efforts to reach an out-of-court resolution.
The USSF’s president said that they are very committed to resolving the matter in a way that is fair. A spokesperson for the female players said that they are happy that the court has recognized the USSF’s discrimination against female players. It is a major step in the right direction in the fight to achieve equal pay. One of the classes is seeking an injunction to prevent future discrimination, and a second class looks to obtain back pay and punitive damages, both of which fall under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
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