Published: Fri, March 08, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

USWNT suing U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination

USWNT suing U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination

The U.S. women's national team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation on Friday in a fight over pay equity and working conditions.

The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Los Angeles on International Women's Day, came three years after several players filed a similar complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

It alleges gender-based discrimination by the U.S. Soccer Federation. In 2015, the women's team won the World Cup, while the men's team wasn't even able to qualify for the World Cup in 2018.

"The USSF has admitted that it pays its female player employees less than its male player employees and has gone so far as to claim that "market realities are such that the women do not deserve to be paid equally to the men", the court papers continued.

In 2016, five members of the USA women's team similarly alleged wage discrimination in a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that apparently went unresolved, leading to Friday's lawsuit.

The union representing the members of the U.S. Men's National Team, whose own collective bargaining agreement expired a year ago, issued a statement supportive of the USWNT's efforts to be paid equally.

The U.S. Soccer Federation declined to comment on matters of pending litigation.

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"In light of our team's unparalleled success on the field, it's a shame that we still are fighting for treatment that reflects our achievements and contributions to the sport", said United States co-captain Carli Lloyd.

"Each of us is extremely proud to wear the United States jersey, and we also take seriously the responsibility that comes with that".

Players - including Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe - are urging the governing body to "promote gender equality".

The USWNT is not the only women's team fighting for equal pay and conditions. The new lawsuit effectively brings the 2016 complaint to an end.

When the women's team clinched their most recent World Cup title in 2015, it was the most watched soccer game in American TV history with an audience of approximately 23 million viewers. While the USSF and USWNT reached an agreement in April 2017 on a five-year collective bargaining agreement, the complaint was still outstanding. They received raises in base pay, bonuses and better provisions for travel and accommodations. It also gave the players some control of certain licensing and marketing rights.

In the past, the USSF has said much of the disparity in pay between the men's and women's teams was a result of labor agreements, the Associated Press reported. Specific details about the deal were not disclosed.

The new lawsuit mirrors numerous issues raised by that complaint and the lack of action three years on led the players to seek, and be granted, a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC in February. "For its part, the USWNTPA will continue to seek improvements in pay and working conditions through the labor-management and collective bargaining processes, ' the players" union said. U.S. Soccer then canceled a match in Honolulu as its turf was "not suitable".

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