A federal judge in California ruled in favor of U.S. Soccer on most of the key points in the U.S. Women’s National Team’s ongoing wage discrimination lawsuit.
Judge R. Gary Klausner ruled in favor of U.S. Soccer, stating in his decision that the players “have not demonstrated a triable issue that WNT players are paid less than MNT players.”
In addition, Klausner ruled in favor of the Federation’s claims that USWNT players were paid more in total and on a per-game basis during the period in question.
Members of the USWNT filed a lawsuit in 2019 on two grounds, first claiming that U.S. Soccer violated the Equal Pay Act by paying the U.S. Women less than members of the U.S. Men’s National Team; and second, that the federation discriminated against them under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, specifically with regard to workplace conditions.
Klausner’s judgment centered around his determination that the USWNT was actually paid more than the USMNT on a per-game basis and in total from 2016 to 2019, according to financial information provided by U.S. Soccer.
Klausner also pointed to the different Collective Bargaining Agreement structures between the USWNT and USMNT as another reason to rule in favor of U.S. Soccer. The USWNT had the option to accept a structure similar to the current men’s team structure, but chose instead to secure guaranteed salaries for key players.
“Merely comparing what Women’s National Team players received under their own CBA with what they would have received under the Men’s National Team CBA discounts the value that the team placed on the guaranteed benefits they received under their agreement,” Klausner’s 32-page ruling said. “Which they opted for at the expense of higher performance-based bonuses.”
The lone issues left unsettled after Friday’s judgment involved USWNT discrimination in charter flights, hotel accommodations, and medical and training support. That trial is scheduled for mid-June.
“We are shocked and disappointed with today’s decision, but we will not give up our hard work for equal pay,” Molly Levinson, spokesperson for the USWNT, said on Friday. “We are confident in our case and steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that girls and women who play this sport will not be valued as lesser just because of their gender.
“We have learned that there are tremendous obstacles to change; we know that it takes bravery and courage and perseverance to stand up to them. We will appeal and press on. Words cannot express our gratitude to all who support us.”
Several USWNT players voiced their opinions of disagreement with the ruling on social media.
Friday’s decision doesn’t end the USWNT’s Equal Pay lawsuit, but it severely cripples it. U.S. Soccer and the USWNT can still negotiate a settlement, but Friday’s decision gives U.S. Soccer a clear advantage in negotiations.