The gender discrimination lawsuit U.S. women's national team players filed against U.S. Soccer in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles took a new turn on Thursday night when both parties filed motions
for summary judgement.
They were accompanied by the filing to hundreds of pages of documents, including the collective bargaining agreements reached between U.S. Soccer and the men's and
women's players associations, which had not previously been made public. Other documents include depositions, emails and notes from meetings by parties on both sides, presenting a detailed look under
the hood of labor relations between the federation and its players going back years. For the first time, the players included an amount they estimate as compensation
: back pay of
$66.7 million plus punitive damages.
The players suing Equal Pay Act and Title VII
-- The Equal Pay Act provides that an employer cannot discriminate between employees on the basis of sex by "paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at
which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex ... for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working
-- Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against any employee with respect to her “compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment,
because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” (Unlike under the Equal Pay Act, plaintiffs alleging sex-based compensation discrimination under Title VII
need not establish that they are performing equal work for unequal pay. They need only show that sex “was a motivating factor for any employment practice, even though other factors also
motivated the practice.”) The legal positions:
The players are asking for partial summary
that there is no genuine issue of material fact related to what they need to prove their case under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII. U.S. Soccer is seeking summary judgement
asking that the case be thrown out on the grounds that the players don't satisfy key elements of the anti-discrimination laws related to "work rate," "establishment" and "equal work."
The case will be decided around complicated legal issues related to equal pay, but both sides are seeking to
use the words of the other party against them.
The players' lead attorney, Jeffrey Kessler,
grilled current U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro
in his Jan. 29 deposition
about a statement he made when he was running for president in 2017: "Our female players have not been treated equally."
In a Jan. 16 deposition, Megan Rapinoe
was asked by U.S.
Soccer attorney Brian Stolzenbach
about comments she made on a Pod Save America interview: "It's a complex argument. Our pay structure is different. We play different games. We're different
rankings in the world, like it's just apples to oranges." The statements: U.S. Soccer:
“Women’s national team players are paid differently because they specifically asked for and negotiated a completely different contract than the men’s national team, despite being
offered, and rejecting, a similar pay-to-play agreement during the past negotiations. Their preference was a contract that provides significant additional benefits that the men’s national team
does not have, including guaranteed annual salaries, medical and dental insurance, paid child-care assistance, paid pregnancy and parental leave, severance benefits, salary continuation during periods
of injury, access to a retirement plan, multiple bonuses and more.” U.S. women's national team players' spokesperson Molly Levinson:
“In the most recent
CBA negotiation, USSF repeatedly said that equal pay was not an option regardless of pay structure. USSF proposed a 'pay to play structure' with less pay across the board. In every instance for a
friendly or competitive match, the women players were offered less pay that their male counterparts. This is the very definition of gender discrimination, and of course the players rejected it.”