US Soccer responds to USWNT’s equal pay appeal

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The U.S. Soccer Federation responded Wednesday to USWNT players’ appeal of the ruling on the equal pay lawsuit.

In a court filing, the USSF stressed that U.S. District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner was correct in dismissing the players’ equal pay claims in May 2020. They argue that the decision was made based on the fact that the players’ total compensation outlined in its Collective Bargaining Agreement is actually higher than the men’s compensation during the period in question.

According to the filing, the women’s players received 27 percent of the revenue they generated while the men received 24 percent.

“The WNT deliberately negotiated for a CBA that prioritized guaranteed salaries and substantial benefits over higher contingent bonuses,” the filing reads. “Plaintiffs cannot now, with the benefit of hindsight, pursue ‘equal pay’ claims based on a different pay structure they explicitly rejected. The district court agreed. This is not a factual dispute. It is not a battle of the experts. It is a fundamental disagreement about what equal pay means under the law.”

In a statement on behalf of the women’s players, Molly Levinsion responded to the claims.

“USSF’s argument is a tired and frustrating anachronism that women should settle for less than they are worth,” she wrote on Twitter.

“USSF’s false lip service regarding support for equal pay has been publicly dismantled by the Men’s team, the EEOC, and a host of former EEOC officials, along with many others, including USSF’s own employees, who have complained of the sexist culture that persists at the organization. It is a fact that if the women players were paid at the same rates as the men that they would have made three times as much as the men because they outperformed the men.

“It is also a fact that USSF — not FIFA — decides what to pay the men’s and women’s teams for the World Cup, and USSF made that decision before FIFA even announced its bonus structure. The reality is that USSF determines its own budget and its own rate of pay and cannot blame FIFA for its own ongoing and past discrimination.”

The lawsuit was originally filed in March 2019, with working conditions claims being settled out of court. Judge Klausner effectively dismissed the equal pay aspect of the case when he granted the USSF’s request for a summary judgement. The women then filed an appeal last July, stressing that the judge did not look at rates of pay nor that the women had to win more than the men to receive their bonuses.

“The court did not account for performance — specifically, that the women had to be the best in the world to make about the same amount per game as the much less successful men,” the women’s appeal stated.

The response comes as the USSF is attempting to negotiate CBAs with both the men’s and women’s teams.