USSF files response to USWNT’s equal pay lawsuit appeal

The United States Soccer Federation filed a response to the appeal in the equal pay lawsuit from players on the US women’s national team on Wednesday, stressing that the decision to dismiss the original claims stands correct.

In May 2020, US District Court Judge R. Gary Klausner dismissed the players’ equal pay complaints, citing that the total compensation spelled out in their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), including guaranteed salaries and benefits, was higher than men’s compensation during the class period in question.

The documents proved that the percentage of money the USWNT players received based on revenue generated came out to 27 per cent compared to the men’s 24 per cent.

“The WNT deliberately negotiated for a CBA that prioritized guaranteed salaries and substantial benefits over higher contingent bonuses,” the filing read. “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.”

A statement on behalf of the players in response, read: “USSF’s argument is a tired and frustrating anachronism that women should settle for less than they are worth. In arguing that the women were ‘paid more’ than the men, USSF completely ignores that the women’s team had to be much more successful than the men’s team to make about the same as the men.

“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, focusing on equal pay and working conditions. The women then filed an appeal last July to the US Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit, urging Judge Klausner to revisit rates of pay and 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.

Currently the USSF is negotiating separate CBAs with both unions as the men’s contract expired in 2018 and the women’s deadline is coming up at the end of this year.