Over a year after a Los Angeles judge tossed wage claims against the U.S. Soccer Federation filed by women’s national team players, U.S. men’s national team players Friday asked an appeals court to reinstate the women’s claims.
The women’s lawsuit, filed in March 2019 in Los Angeles federal court, alleged that the women’s team had been subject to “institutionalized gender discrimination,” including violations of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The plaintiffs sought more than $64 million in damages.
In May 2020, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner rejected allegations that female players led by Alex Morgan were systematically underpaid by U.S. Soccer, but allowed claims of discriminatory working conditions to go forward. As a result of the settlement, the female players are to receive the same flights, hotel rooms and staff support as the men’s national team.
The rejected equal pay claims are on track for review by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel is likely to hear oral arguments late this year or in early 2022.
“The men stand with the women in their fight to secure the equal pay they deserve,” lawyers for the team said in a friend of the court brief filed Friday with the appellate panel.
“The United States Soccer Federation markets the United States men’s and women’s national teams under the slogan, `One Nation, One Team.’ But for more than 30 years, the federation has treated the women’s national team players as second-class citizens, discriminating against the women in their wages and working conditions and paying them less than the men’s national team players, even as U.S. Soccer has enjoyed a period of extraordinary financial growth,” according to the brief.
The filing was made as the women were about to play the Netherlands in the quarter-finals of the Olympic soccer tournament in Japan. The women are four-time World Cup champions, while the men failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
“The District Court’s oversimplified math made the women victims both of their own success and of the men’s atypical struggles in 2017-2018,” according to the men’s brief. “A woman’s rate of pay is not equal to a man’s if the women must consistently achieve better outcomes merely to get to the same place.”
The men’s team also alleges that the soccer federation sends a “corrosive public message to women and girls that, even at the highest level, no matter how hard they work or how much they succeed, they can and will be diminished and undervalued by their employers.”