Bloomberg Law
May 2, 2020, 3:03 AM

U.S. Women’s Soccer Pay Discrimination Claim Is Thrown Out

Edvard Pettersson
Edvard Pettersson
Bloomberg News

U.S. women soccer players’ claim that they are paid less than male counterparts to play for the national team was thrown out by a federal judge who found that any pay discrepancy was due to differences they negotiated in their collective bargaining agreements.

U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner in Los Angeles late Friday granted the U.S. Soccer Federation’s request to take the women’s key pay discrimination claim out of the lawsuit that had been primed to go to a highly anticipated trial.

The dispute gained widespread attention in March when Carlos Cordeiro, who was president of U.S. Soccer, abruptly resigned amid a furor over arguments in a federation legal filing that the women’s team is paid differently than the men’s team because its play is inferior and the competition worse, and it competes in less hostile stadiums.

The judge rejected the women’s position that they ended up getting paid more than the men only because they played more games and were more successful than the men’s team. Instead, according to the ruling, the evidence showed that the women’s team not only played more games but it also made more money on average than the men’s team.

A spokesperson for the women players said they will appeal.

“We are shocked and disappointed with today’s decision, but we will not give up our hard work for equal pay,” Molly Levinson said in an emailed statement. “We are confident in our case and steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that girls and women who play this sport will not be valued as lesser just because of their gender.”

The fact that women received smaller bonuses than the men on the national team shouldn’t be taken by itself of evidence of pay discrimination, according to Klausner.

“This approach ignores other benefits received by women national team players, such as guaranteed annual salaries and severance pay, benefit that men national team players do not receive,” the judge said.

The judge allowed the women players to pursue their claim of allegedly inferior travel conditions, as well as medical and training support, compared to that of the men’s team.

Read More: U.S. Soccer Says Women Suing Over Pay Make More Than Men

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