CALIFORNIA—The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team will not be able to bring their equal pay lawsuit to the U.S. Appeals Court in San Francisco due to a ruling by a federal judge in a Los Angeles court on Tuesday, June 23.
Legal battles relating to equal pay on the national soccer teams began more than four years ago.
On March 30, 2016, five members of the national women’s soccer team accused the U.S. Soccer Federation Inc., the organization that is responsible for the paychecks of both the men’s and women’s national soccer teams, of wage discrimination. The players held that they were receiving 40 percent of what the men were making and pled their case to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
On March 8, 2019, a formal class action lawsuit was launched by national women soccer players against U.S. Soccer for the latter’s alleged violation of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
The case was argued before Judge R. Gary Klausner, who was appointed to Los Angeles’ U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in 2002 by President George W. Bush.
Klausner denied the soccer players’ claim on May 1, 2020. The justification for his decision came down to negotiations between the Women’s National Team (WNT) and U.S. Soccer where WNT was offered the same pay structure as the Men’s National Team, but decided instead to trade that off for more contracted players and greater base compensation.
On this point, Klausner wrote in his court opinion, “Plaintiffs cannot now retroactively deem their CBA [collective bargaining agreement] worse than the MNT CBA [Men’s National Team collective bargaining agreement] by reference to what they would have made had they been paid under the MNT’s pay-to-play structure when they themselves rejected such a structure.”
After Klausner’s ruling, WNT made an appeal, which, if approved, would have allowed them to reassert their case in the San Francisco U.S. Appeals courtroom.
Klausner did not approve of this appeal attempt, which discards WNT’s wage discrimination claims.
All that is left for WNT among their claims relating to unequal treatment in the soccer industry is a complaint about discrimination within their working environment. Klausner scheduled a trial for September 15 to address these outstanding claims.