The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) has waged a four-year legal campaign to correct what it perceives as unequal pay and treatment compared to the United States Men’s National Team. The issue has simmered for several years, but it came to a head as the women won the 2019 World Cup in dominating fashion with support on the issue from the fans, sponsors and even their male counterparts.
The lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), which is both teams’ governing body and employer, was put on hold until last year’s World Cup ended. After an attempt to mediate the issue fizzled in early 2020, the two parties opted for litigation.
Ruling on pay
Now United States District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner dismissed the players’ claim that they were systematically underpaid, which violated the equal pay for similar work law that applies to all employees in the United States. The judge also accepted USSF’s argument that the women “earned more on a cumulative and average per-game basis” than the men during the years in dispute.
The players issued a statement saying they were disappointed by the ruling, and they would appeal. For its part, USSF appeared to take little joy in announcing this unpopular decision.
Ruling on treatment to come
The case regarding the treatment of the women will start with a June 16 court date. The team argues that they did not receive equal treatment regarding transport during training and competition, travel accommodations, staffing and training facilities, as well as appearance fees and even per diems for meals.
A symbol for a global movement
The women’s team has adeptly positioned itself as a symbol of equal pay and treatment for women and girls around the world. They will likely continue this fight, which is grandly justified and amplified by the abundant success the team has enjoyed with the accompanying fanbase. Unfortunately, these concerns remain an issue in 2020 outside of soccer as well. Those with questions or concerns regarding unfair pay in other professions may wish to discuss the matter with an experienced business and employment law attorney.