US women’s football players seek more than $66m in damages over pay gap and sexism

Members of the US women’s national team are seeking more than $66 million in damages as part of their gender discrimination lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation.

The damages were included in slew of papers filed in US District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday ahead of a trial scheduled to start May 5.

Among the documents filed were the separate collective bargaining agreements of the U.S. men’s and women’s teams, which had not previously been made public.

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Players on the women’s national team sued the federation last March alleging institutionalized gender discrimination that includes inequitable compensation between the men’s and women’s teams.

Each side in the class-action lawsuit asked for a summary judgment in their favor. The estimate of damages, including interest, was provided by Finnie Bevin Cook, an economist from Deiter Consulting Group, which was retained by the suing players.

The collective bargaining agreements showed a disparity in bonuses but also highlighted the different pay structures between the two teams.


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“Women’s national team players are paid differently because they specifically asked for and negotiated a completely different contract than the men’s national team, despite being offered, and rejecting, a similar pay-to-play agreement during the past negotiations,” U.S. Soccer said in a statement. “Their preference was a contract that provides significant additional benefits that the men’s national team does not have, including guaranteed annual salaries, medical and dental insurance, paid child-care assistance, paid pregnancy and parental leave, severance benefits, salary continuation during periods of injury, access to a retirement plan, multiple bonuses and more.”

Molly Levinson, spokeswoman for the plaintiffs, disputed the federation’s assertions.

“In the most recent CBA negotiation, USSF repeatedly said that equal pay was not an option regardless of pay structure,” Levinson said in a statement. “USSF proposed a ‘pay to play structure’ with less pay across the board. In every instance for a friendly or competitive match, the women players were offered less pay that their male counterparts. This is the very definition of gender discrimination, and of course the players rejected it.”

The lawsuit has drawn worldwide attention. When the United States won the World Cup final last summer in France, fans in the crowd chanted “Equal Pay! Equal Pay!”

Earlier this month, the players union for the men’s national team urged the federation to sharply increase pay for the women’s team, while also accusing the governing body of making low-ball offers in current contract negotiations with the men’s team.

AP

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