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No Quick Appeal Yet of U.S. Women’s Soccer Pay Bias Ruling (1)

May 18, 2020, 8:01 PMUpdated: May 19, 2020, 5:21 PM

A California federal judge denied the U.S. women’s soccer team’s request to delay trial in their landmark sex bias lawsuit on the players’ claims relating to travel conditions and medical and training support to enable them to immediately appeal the dismissal of their pay discrimination claims.

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California entered the order Monday, denying the team’s ex parte application for a stay pending appeal. Judge R. Gary Klausner didn’t give any reason for denying the request.

The team’s separate motion seeking entry of final judgment on the dismissal of the pay claims remains pending. The judge could still grant that motion to clear the way for an immediate appeal of his pay bias ruling.

The judge signed the order May 15 denying the stay of a trial until any appeal is decided, the same day he entered a separate order continuing the trial date on the team’s remaining claims until Sept. 15. That’s the second time the trial date has been pushed back since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the U.S.

The women’s primary claims involve allegations under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that U.S. Soccer’s men’s team was paid more than the women because of sex. Klausner granted summary judgment on those claims May 1, citing undisputed evidence the women were actually paid more per game than the men during the period in question and had negotiated a different pay structure, with certain guarantees that the men didn’t have, through their union.

The women argued in May 8 filings that judicial economy and litigation efficiency made an indefinite trial stay, and the entry of final judgment on their pay discrimination claims, proper so they could ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to review Klausner’s pay bias ruling right away. If trial on the remaining claims were to go forward as planned, two trials will be necessary if the Ninth Circuit reinstates the equal pay claims, the team urged.

Federal court rules seek to avoid piecemeal appeals. Litigants typically can’t appeal a decision that only adjudicates part of a case and must instead wait for a final, appealable order.

Klausner’s grant of partial summary judgment on the pay bias claims isn’t final and therefore likely isn’t appealable without permission, or if he grants the motion to enter final judgment on the pay bias aspects of his summary judgment ruling.

Winston & Strawn LLP represents the women. Latham & Watkins LLP represents U.S. Soccer.

The case is Morgan v. U.S. Soccer Fed’n, Inc., C.D. Cal., No. 2:19-cv-01717, ex parte application denied 5/15/20.

(Updates May 18 story with additional detail throughout on different motions before the judge.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Dorrian in Washington at pdorrian@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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