Court Rules U.S. Women’s World Cup Champions Can’t Get More Than They Bargained For, Dismisses Equal Pay Claim

Bernadette Hunton
Bernadette Hunton
05/05/2020

The U.S. women’s soccer team suffered a rare defeat on Friday when a federal court in California dismissed the team’s claims against the U.S. Soccer Federation alleging wage discrimination based on sex.  You can read the decision here.

In support of the women’s equal pay lawsuit filed in March of last year, the team argued that the collective bargaining agreements for the men’s and women’s U.S. soccer teams established — as a matter of undisputed fact — that the USF paid female players less than male players because: 1) the women’s team CBA provided for lower bonuses, and 2) had the women been compensated according to the terms of the men’s CBA, they would have received more money than under their own contract.

The court rejected the arguments, essentially concluding that the women players, who were paid more on a cumulative and per game basis than their male counterparts during the covered period, got what they bargained for and were not entitled to more.  Presiding Judge Gary Klausner wrote:

This history of negotiations between the parties demonstrates that the WNT [Women’s National Team] rejected an offer to be paid under the same pay-to-play structure as the MNT [Men’s National Team], and that the WNT was willing to forgo higher bonuses for other benefits, such as a greater based compensation and the guarantee of a higher number of contracted players.  Accordingly, Plaintiffs cannot now retroactively deem their CBA worse than the MNT CBA by reference to what they would have made had they been paid under the MNT’s pay-to-play structure when they themselves rejected such a structure.

It’s anticipated the team will appeal the disappointing decision.  Other claims regarding unequal work conditions are preserved.

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