Attorneys for members of the U.S. women's
national team filed their first two motions related to the decision of the U.S. district court on May 1 to throw out their claim against U.S. Soccer under the Equal Pay Act.
1. The players filed what it termed a 54(b) motion, asking that a final judgment be entered in the aspect of the case related to the equal pay claim so they can immediately appeal the court's ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
No final judgement has been entered since the court only granted U.S. Soccer partial summary judgment. Without a final judgment order, no appeal can be filed until the trial on the remaining aspects of the case under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (claims of disparities in charter flights, hotel accommodations and medical and training support staff and services between the men's and women's national teams).
The players' argument is that the issues in the parts of the case that the court has not ruled on don't overlap with what has been decided and there is no just reason for a delay in the appeal. They argue that the view of the Ninth Circuit is to take a pragmatic approach and hear appeals even if there is some overlapping proof that is required in the different aspects of the case.
Attorneys for the players also raise the current travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic as reason to not delay hearing an appeal: It's going to be a while before any jury trials are held and that would only extend the process and create a backlog.
"A trial is unlikely to be able to proceed while the CDC’s travel restrictions remain in place and prevent witnesses and attorneys for both parties -- the vast majority of whom live out of state -- from traveling to the Central District for a jury trial."
They also argue that to not grant a 54(b) motion and decide the question of their equal pay claim, a settlement would prejudice efforts to resolve the case.
"Simply put, the dismissed equal pay claims constitute the core of Plaintiffs’ case, and without a final
resolution on their status, it will be exceedingly difficult for the Parties ever to reach a settlement.
2. The players asked that the trial on the remaining Title VII claims currently scheduled to start June 16 in Los Angeles be postponed. They argue the delay will give the court time to decide the 54(b) motion.
If the players win the 54(b) motion, they will ask that the trial on the Title VII claims be delayed until the appeal is decided. At best, they will win the appeal and avoid the district court holding two trials at different times -- one now on the Title VII claims, and the other on the equal pay claim. At worse, they'll have the trial on the Title VII claims after they exhaust their equal pay appeals.
If the district court rejects the 54(b) motion, the players ask that a date for the trial "a few months out, at a time that is practicable in light of COVID-19 restrictions."
Bottom line: Absent a settlement, this case will drag on for years.
1. An appeal could take 12-20 months to be heard and another 3-12 months for a decision, per AP.
2. Even if the players won the appeal of the equal day dismissal, that doesn't mean they win the case. It would go back to district court on all aspects of the Equal Pay Act claim and Title XII claims.
3. And depending on the verdicts, another round of appeals could follow.