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U.S. Women’s Soccer Players Must Disclose Some ‘Nonteam Income’

Nov. 4, 2019, 12:50 PM

U.S. women’s national team members must disclose to the U.S. Soccer Federation their soccer-related income from professional-league play and sponsorship or marketing arrangements made by their union, the Central District of California ruled.

The order requiring Alex Morgan and 27 other players to turn over documents denies, for now, the federation’s bid for broader soccer-related income from the team members in their proposed class pay discrimination lawsuit against the organization.

Information regarding the women’s play for teams in the professional National Women’s Soccer League and any other professional league going back to April 19, 2014—or another date mutually agreed to by the parties’ attorneys—must be revealed to the federation, Magistrate Judge Alicia G. Rosenberg said in an order entered Nov. 1.

Information regarding sponsorship and marketing deals entered by the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association on behalf of the women must show how much each is paid under the agreements, Rosenberg said.

The organization, which runs both the women’s and men’s national teams, had argued that all 28 women’s compensation from sources other than nonsoccer-related income is potentially relevant to several key issues in the case. That includes the “central” question of whether sex discrimination or other factors caused the different compensation methods laid out in the organization’s separate collective bargaining agreements with the women’s and men’s teams, the federation said.

The players countered that the true issue is what one employer, the federation, pays its female and male workers for equal work. Information regarding income from any other sources isn’t relevant to that question and the federation’s discovery demand unfairly targets their personal tax returns and other private records, the players said.

Morgan and her teammates sued the federation in March. U.S. Soccer has continually shortchanged them relative to the men team despite their greater on-field success and has subjected them to other unequal job conditions, including with regard to travel arrangements and promotional efforts, the suit alleges.

Teammate Hope Solo is separately suing the federation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Winston and Strawn LLP represents the women players. Seyfarth Shaw LLP represents U.S. Soccer.

The case is Morgan v. U.S. Soccer Fed’n, Inc., C.D. Cal., No. 2:19-cv-01717, minutes of telephonic status conference 11/1/19.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Carmen Castro-Pagan at ccastro-pagan@bloomberglaw.com and Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com

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