A lawsuit brought by female professional soccer players against the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) may be settled, partly.
In 2019, female professional soccer players on the United States Senior Women’s National Team, including well-known players like Megan Rapinoe, filed a collective action in federal court in California alleging the USSF violated the players’ rights under the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Last year, the players filed a motion for partial summary judgment on their EPA claims and the USSF filed a motion for summary judgment as to all claims. The court ruled in the USSF’s favor on the EPA claims, finding the female players’ arguments, which were limited to certain forms of compensation such as bonuses, failed to create a genuine dispute in light of evidence that female players were actually paid more than male players, cumulatively and on average, per game. The court clarified the proper test for the EPA claims is whether the female players received lower wages than the average of wages paid to all male players. It concluded the female players had not so demonstrated.
The district court denied USSF’s motion as to the players’ unequal working conditions claims under Title VII. The parties then reached a proposed settlement as to those claims, which the players has moved the court to approve. Under the proposed settlement, the USSF will implement revised policies to create equality with the men’s soccer team, including new policies for female players’ charter flights, playing conditions, professional support, and hotel accommodations. Under the settlement, the revised policies will remain in effect for four years.
The parties did not reach a settlement as to the players’ EPA claims. The players asked the court to enter final judgment on the USSF’s motion for summary judgment so the players may proceed with an appeal of the court’s decision.
The hearing on the final approval of the settlement of the players’ Title VII claims is scheduled for April 12, 2021. Once the settlement is approved and final judgment is entered, it is expected the players will file an appeal as to their EPA claims.
If you have questions about this case or equal pay issues, contact a member of the Jackson Lewis Sports Industry Group or another Jackson Lewis attorney to discuss.