A federal judge dismissed multiple key portions of the U.S. women’s national team’s equal lawsuit filed against U.S. Soccer, delivering a major win for the federation on Friday.
Judge R. Gary Klausner struck down most of the players’ previous arguments their rights were violated under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. His decision left only two claims for the players to pursue — unfair travel accommodations and medical and training support.
It was a significant blow to the players after the case gained international attention during the U.S. World Cup victory.
USWNT representative Molly Levinson said the players will appeal the decision.
“We are shocked and disappointed with today’s decision, but we will not give up our hard work for equal pay,” Levinson said in a statement. “We are confident in our case and steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that girls and women will not be valued as lesser just because of their gender. We have learned that there are tremendous obstacles to change; we know that it takes bravery and courage and perseverance to stand up to them. We will appeal and press on. Words cannot express our gratitude to all who support us.”
USWNT co-captain Megan Rapinoe posted on Twitter, “We will never stop fighting for EQUALITY.”
The players had argued U.S. Soccer violated the Equal Pay Act by paying women’s team athletes less than those on the men’s team. They also argued the federation created a discriminatory workplace environment that violated Title VII.
Klausner dismissed both claims via summary judgment, saying the players hadn’t “demonstrated a triable issue” that they suffered gender-based wage discrimination under the Equal Pay Act. He also agreed with the federation’s argument women’s players earned more in both individual game and total compensation during the period disputed in the suit.
The women played 111 games and earned $24.5 million during the contested period, while the men played 87 games and made $18.5 million.
The players had argued they only made more than the men’s team by playing more games.
Klausner ultimately sided with the federation, arguing that “the WNT both played more games and made more money than the MNT per game.”
In a final blow, Klausner also sided with the federation on the topic of playing surfaces. The women stated they were expected to play on artificial turf surfaces — which are more likely to cause injury to players — more frequently than the men.
However, Klausner decided not to include the argument because the federation was able to “offer a legitimate, nondiscriminatory explanation for subjecting the WNT to turf.”
Players joined Rapinoe denouncing the ruling on social media, pledging to appeal the decision.
We will never stop fighting for EQUALITY.
— Megan Rapinoe (@mPinoe) May 2, 2020
— Tobin Heath (@TobinHeath) May 1, 2020
We will continue on in the fight for equal pay. https://t.co/GmI16NssIh
— Christen Press (@ChristenPress) May 1, 2020
Before the summary judgment rulings, the lawsuit was set to go to trial on June 16 after a postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic.