Patterico's Pontifications


Updating the U.S. Women’s Soccer Equal Pay and Civil Rights Lawsuit

Filed under: General — JVW @ 6:55 am

[guest post by JVW]

I thought I might follow-up on a post I wrote last summer, regarding the United States Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) and their lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation alleging violations in equal pay protection and civil rights laws. The USWNT’s complaints boiled down to the following:

* The men were compensated more for appearance and performance in international showcase events such as the World Cup.

* The men were given more money for appearance fees when representing the United States in international matches.

* The men were treated to more luxurious travel and enjoyed better training and playing facilities.

The matter, which spent about a year in arbitration before heading into court, is now before a federal judge here in Los Angeles. Yesterday, Judge R. Gary Klausner (appointed by George W. Bush), chucked part of the USWNT’s suit:

The team filed a motion in February asking for $67 million in damages in lieu of a trial. Female players claimed they had not been paid equally to the men’s national team, citing the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner issued a 32-page decision Friday partially granting the federation’s request for summary judgment, according to The Associated Press.

He threw out the Equal Pay Act portion of the lawsuit but left in the Civil Rights Act claims regarding the federation’s use of charter flights, hotel accommodations, medical support services and training support services.

Judge Klausner is clearly a reader of Patterico’s Pontifications, as yesterday he agreed with my conclusion last summer that a contract mutually agreed upon pursuant to collective bargaining by the USWNT’s players’ association and U.S. Soccer shouldn’t casually be abrogated because one side now feels that it has a stronger bargaining position:

In the summary decision, the judge cited the women’s team’s collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer that prioritized guaranteed money over a “pay-to-play” structure favored by the men’s team. According to the summary, the sides had negotiated for a pay-to-play structure for the women’s team beginning in May 2016, and reached a compromise in 2017 that meant the women’s team would have 20 contracted players for the year, each receiving a base salary of $100,000. The deal also included bonuses for friendlies.

“The history of negotiations between the parties demonstrates that the WNT rejected an offer to be paid under the same pay-to-play structure as the MNT [men’s national team], and that the WNT was willing to forgo higher bonuses for other benefits, such as greater base compensation and the guarantee of a higher number of contracted players,” the summary reads. “Accordingly, Plaintiffs cannot now retroactively deem their CBA worse than the MNT CBA by reference to what they would have made had they been paid under the MNT’s pay-to-play structure when they themselves rejected such a structure.”

The matter next goes to trial on June 16, to determine if the differences in training and travel for the two squads is a civil rights violation, through given the fact that the U.S. Soccer Federation has already pledged to take steps to equalize these two items for both teams, there might not be much for the women to gain by going forward.

In any case, the USWNT still has the satisfaction of knowing they are far more celebrated in their on-field efforts than the USMNT.


7 Responses to “Updating the U.S. Women’s Soccer Equal Pay and Civil Rights Lawsuit”

  1. Over at Volokh conspiracy, Paul Cassell argues that the conclusion the WNT rejected that pay structure is a disputed issue of fact and this ruling will be reversed.

    Johnny Agreeable (1b878e)

  2. What the women’s team needs to do is pursue a better collective bargaining agreement, pursuant to the contract they already have in place. And if this means playing for several years under the old agreement? Oh well. Apparently, even the women were caught by surprise at their own success.

    Gryph (08c844)

  3. 1. If it is a disputed issue of fact, that means the case has to go forward, right? It doesn’t mean the women automatically get what they’re jonesing for.

    Gryph (08c844)

  4. Gryph,

    Yes, that would be the basis for reversal. Basically, summary judgment can only be granted if there’s no legal way to win accepting as true the facts are as you say they are. Paul Cassell quotes material where WNT claims they were never offered the more favorable structure. By definition, they couldnt have rejected an offer that didnt exist.

    Without reading everything more carefully, I dont know if the WNT was required to actually ask for the more favorable structure as opposed to resting on a claim they were never presented with that structure. With respect to equal treatment type stuff it may be that if MNT is offered one structure the WNT has to be given the same opportunity? Not sure how that shakes out but I thought it was worth linking an opposite take.

    Johnny Agreeable (1b878e)

  5. Interesting, Johnny Agreeable. Thanks for providing the Volokh link. In that post is a link to this article from CBS News which attempts to compare the per-game pay for the men and women. Here are some interesting tidbits from it:

    A U.S. man who was on the roster for all 16 qualifiers during the failed effort to reach the 2018 World Cup earned $179,375 in payments from the U.S. Soccer Federation.

    An American woman received $52,500 for being on the roster for the five World Cup qualifiers last year plus $147,500 for her time at the World Cup, including a $37,500 roster bonus and $110,000 for winning the title in France.

    The USSF keeps 16-21 women’s players under contract in each year of the current labor deal, which runs through 2021, and pays each a $100,000 salary. The federation also pays a minimum 22 players assigned to a club in the National Women’s Soccer League, with each receiving $72,500 to $77,500 this year.

    Women receive 75% of salary on maternity leave for up to one year, and a player has the longer of three months or two training camps to return to full fitness. A player can receive 75% of salary for up to three months when adopting a child and a $50 daily stipend for child care during training and play. The USSF also pays for health, dental and vision insurance for the women.

    When the men last qualified for the World Cup in 2014, their player pool got a $2 million payment, and each player earned $55,000 for making the roster and $5,500 per match. The player pool earned $175,000 per point for the group phase, a total of $700,000, plus $3.6 million for reaching the round of 16.

    The USSF in its filing pointed out it received $9 million from FIFA for the men reaching the second round of the 2014 World Cup, but $2 million for the women winning in 2015 and $4 million for their victory in 2019.

    There is parity is per diems: the women get $62.50 daily while in the U.S. and $75 internationally, the same as the men received under terms of their expired deal that covered 2015-18. And men and women both receive $1.50 per paid attendance for home matches controlled by the USSF.

    Perhaps this isn’t as cut-and-dried as I had portrayed it, yet I am still not convinced that the women aren’t trying to blame US Soccer for the discrepancy in shared revenue from FIFA.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  6. John Roberts

    A Senior Intelligence Source tells me there is agreement among most of the 17 Intelligence agencies that COVID-19 originated in the Wuhan lab. The source stressed that the release is believed to be a MISTAKE, and was not intentional.
    __ _

    Was it a MISTAKE that CHINA allowed travel from WUHAN to everywhere else BUT inside China?

    harkin (8f4a6f)

  7. Harkin,

    The “17 intelligence agencies” triggers me:!

    While I think it is certainly possible this was an accidental release (and/or through local bad practices/corruption, etc.)… At this point, don’t trust any government agency farther than I can throw them.

    BfC (d57b68)

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