A Los Angeles federal judge has ruled against 28 members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team who claimed they were victims of gender discrimination and unequal pay.
Stars Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and 26 other members of the team that won the 2019 World Cup filed their suit in March 2019 in Los Angeles federal court. It alleges that the women’s team has been subject to “institutionalized gender discrimination,” including violations of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, because the women are paid less than the U.S. men’s national team.
U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner on Friday dismissed that claim vs. U.S. Soccer, ruling that their evidence was “insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact for trial.”
Klausner pointed out that the players had willingly entered into a collective bargaining agreement that was different than the one the men have, with the women’s CBA offering a base salary and benefits.
“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, and the WNT was willing to forgo higher bonuses for benefits, such as greater base compensation and the guarantee of a higher number of contracted players,” Klausner wrote.
The female players are also eligible for health care and family leave, benefits that are not available for the men.
The judge did, however, allowed claims of disparities in travel and medical staff to proceed to trial.
Plaintiff’s lawyers said they will appeal Friday’s ruling.
“We are shocked and disappointed with today’s decision but we will not give up our hard work for equal pay,” said Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the players. “We are confident in our case and steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that girls and women who play this sport will not be valued as lesser just because of their gender.”
U.S. Soccer officials issued the following statement: “We look forward to working with the Women’s National Team to chart a positive path forward to grow the game both here at home and around the world. U.S. Soccer has long been the world leader for the women’s game on and off the field, and we are committed to continuing that work to ensure our Women’s National Team remains the best in the world and sets the standard for women’s soccer.”
Some players reacted to the ruling Friday.
“We will never stop fighting for equality,” Megan Rapinoe tweeted.
And Alex Morgan tweeted, “Although disappointing to hear this news, this will not discourage us in our fight for equality.”