Bloomberg Law
March 8, 2019, 4:43 PMUpdated: March 8, 2019, 5:21 PM

U.S. Women Soccer Players File Class Suit Over Unequal Pay (1)

Patrick Dorrian
Patrick Dorrian

Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, and 25 other U.S. women’s soccer players in a March 8 class lawsuit accuse the sports governing body of paying women substantially less than men’s players based on sex.

Federal laws prohibit paying women less than men for equal work and the United States Soccer Federation Inc. flouts those laws by continually shortchanging its women’s team players despite their superior success to the men’s team, the lawsuit filed in California federal court alleges.

The women’s team is currently ranked number one in the world, a position it’s held for 10 of the past 11 years, the complaint says.

U.S. Soccer bills itself as a champion of “gender equality” but in reality only pays “lip service” to the cause, the women say. Notwithstanding their team’s unparalleled success in World Cup, Olympic, and other competition, they have been paid on average just 38 percent of what men’s team members have been paid for matches, they say.

The unequal compensation also extends to tryouts, where women are paid just $15,000 while men get $55,000, and performance bonuses, they say.

U.S. Soccer has admitted to the pay inequities but tries to explain them away by pointing to alleged “market realities,” according to the complaint.

The unequal treatment also extends to other terms and condition of employment, including the types of surfaces on which the teams play, their travel arrangements, and how U.S. Soccer promotes their games, the women allege.

The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup begins June 7 in France.

Cause(s) of Action: Violations of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Scope/Relief: Class status for the 28 named plaintiffs and all other similarly situated current and former women’s team players.

Response: U.S. Soccer doesn’t comment on pending litigation, the organization told Bloomberg Law in a March 8 email.

Attorneys: Winston & Strawn LLP represents the proposed class.

The case is Morgan v. U.S. Soccer Fed’n, Inc., C.D. Cal., No. 2:19-cv-01717, class complaint 3/8/19.

(Updated with additional reporting)

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Dorrian in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at