The settlement between members of the U.S. women's national team and U.S. Soccer on the lawsuit over non-compensation matters in their current collective bargaining agreement has been approved by U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner, paving the way for the women to file an appeal of Judge Klausner's summary judgment in favor of U.S. Soccer on the women's claim, under the Equal Pay Act, that the women were paid less than men's national team players.
That summary judgment was granted on May 1, 2020, but the women could not appeal to the decision until all matters in the case were decided. And even though the federation and women reached an agreement on issues related to working conditions -- the use of charter flights for travel, venue selection, number of support staff and hotel accommodations -- the women could not move forward with their appeal until Klausner formally approved the settlement.
The settlement on non-compensation matters came after Klausner found for the federation on the issue of games played on artificial turf but allowed claims of disparities in charter flights, hotel accommodations and support services (medical and training support staff) to go to trial, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Because of COVID-19 disruptions in the federal court system, that trial date was delayed until 2021. The settlement was reached on Dec. 1, 2020.
Final judgment allows the women, who have estimated damages in their case to be $66.7 million, to appeal the decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Players' spokesperson Molly Levinson said the goal remains equal pay:
"Now that this is behind us, we intend to appeal the Court's equal pay decision, which does not account for the fact that women players have been paid at lesser rates than men who do the same job. We are committed as ever to our work to achieve the equal pay that we legally deserve and our focus is on the future and ensuring we leave the game a better place for the next generation of women who will play for this team and our country."
The sticking point is how to address the differences in prize money FIFA distributes to participating federations at the two World Cups: $38 million to 1998 World Cup champion France (out of a total of $400 million) and $4 million to 1999 World Cup champion USA (out of $30 million).
U.S. Soccer issued its own statement:
"U.S. Soccer is 100% committed to equal pay. We have offered the USWNT the identical compensation provided to our men's players for all matches controlled by U.S. Soccer. Unfortunately, the USWNT has not accepted our offer or our long-standing invitation to meet to try to find a resolution unless U.S. Soccer first agrees to make up the difference between the Men's and Women's World Cup prize money, which is determined, controlled and paid for by FIFA. Our request to meet still stands, and we hope the USWNT will accept our invitation very soon. We look forward to working together to chart a positive path to grow the game both here at home and around the world."