Partial settlement approved in U.S. women's lawsuit case, paving way for appeal of dismissal of equal pay claim

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."

8 comments about "Partial settlement approved in U.S. women's lawsuit case, paving way for appeal of dismissal of equal pay claim".
  1. Santiago 1314, April 12, 2021 at 4:53 p.m.

    Shouldn't the Women be Suing FIFA.??? I'll jump on that Bandwagon.!!!

  2. Victor Mathseon replied, April 13, 2021 at 12:50 p.m.

    Exactly. I wish the comment system here had upvotes just for this!

  3. Bob Ashpole, April 12, 2021 at 7:05 p.m.

    The problem I have is that the information in the news articles is usually accurate but incorrect. In other words the media accurately reports what USSF says, but what it says is misleading. The press reports from the players generally are just vague, general statements, which doesn't give any insight either.

    This isn't a fault of the reporting. They just don't have anything to work with.

  4. Victor Mathseon replied, April 13, 2021 at 12:50 p.m.

    Actually, they have a lot to work with, but the story is pretty complicated, even for experts in discrimination law and sports economics, so the reporters just work as stenographers.

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, April 15, 2021 at 12:45 a.m.

    Actually Victor, the law is fairly straight forward in this area. Payroll and benefits accounting is straight forward too. This particular case is only interesting for the issue of determining business establishments, although it appears that the issue was not contested. Economics really does not play a part. We are talking about actual payroll expenditures, not something like depreciation. All the discussion in the press about economics and revenues is a red herring. Businesses (and slave owners in the past) have used "profit" to excuse their discrimination. It is not legal or, in my view moral either, to discriminate against some in order to increase profits. 

  6. Peter Bechtold, April 13, 2021 at 11:34 a.m.

    The key sentence is on top of the last paragraph: The USWNT rejected--more than once--equal, or rather identical, compensation to the men's. Why ? Because the top $$$ earners according to IRS filings have been women, and not men,. If the women accepted "identical compensation" then they would have to take a pay cut; no wonder that they turned that down.
     
    What burns me up about this whole lawsuit is that it was always based on false reporting to the public. I have read the entire lawsuit, and USSF response, and I wrote here one year ago that I expected the suit to be tossed out by the courts. (Any among you can read it, too.)
    What really happened is that 2019 was a year in the US when the "Me-too movement" and various other social issues had captured the media. Apparently the USWNT lawyers decided to jump on that horse and ride with it; this certainly worked with the tv public.
    What bugs me is that I fear that soccer in USA will be the ultimate victim, and too many among us had worked too hard to advance the game to deserve a major setback.
    For comparison, see the fall-out from the NCAA BB tournaments last month when allocations and revenues were wildly unequal.

  7. Victor Mathseon replied, April 13, 2021 at 12:48 p.m.

    I'm not quite sure you are telling the whole story here, although you are right about total pay. At least one point that the women are making is a "pay for performance" one, and in a world where the women have only finished out of the top 3 in a major tournament only once while men don't even make the Olympics or World Cup, the women should get higher rewards. 

    The $60 million damages figure is essentially the money the women would have made if they got the same performance bonuses for their World Cup performance as the men would get if the men were to actually win the World Cup (assuming they can get past Trinidad, mind you). I don't think this is a very persuasive argument (and neither did the trial judge), but it is not just as simple as "the men and women earn roughly equal amounts so no discrimination can be happening."

  8. humble 1 replied, April 13, 2021 at 6:27 p.m.

    Soccer in the USA is definately the victim.  We are at this junction, though, not because of the lady soccer players, we are here because of poor leadership, vision and zero accoutability at the USSF for a long period of time. This lawsuit is only a symptom of the rot at USSF.  It goes back several leaders.  More concerned about building up MLS and Copa America windfalls, and getting a World Cup than about soccer in the USA.  A handful of people born in the USA start each MLS games.  USA did not even go to the last work cup.  Soccer in the USA is the mission of USSF but they lost sight of it long ago.  Maybe this team will get it back.  There are signs that they are, but actions speak louder than words.  Getting what remains of this matter settled expediciously for the ladies would be good thing. 

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