US women’s national soccer team plans to appeal judge’s dismissal of equal pay claim

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(CBS News)–The U.S. women’s national soccer team plans to appeal a judge’s May 1 decision tossing out their claim for equal pay, a spokesperson for the team said Friday night. The appeal comes as part of a larger lawsuit the team has filed against the U.S. Soccer Federation. 

“Today, we are filing a motion to allow us to appeal immediately the district court’s decision so that the Ninth Circuit will be able to review these claims,” spokesperson Molly Levinson tweeted. The motion asks the judge, U.S. District Judge R Gary Klausner, to enter a final judgement on his decision to dismiss the claim, according to The Associated Press. That would allow the team to bring the case to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. 

“Equal pay means paying women players the same rate for winning a game as men get paid,” Levinson added. “The argument that women are paid enough if they make close to the same amount as men while winning more than twice as often is not equal pay.” 

According to CBS Sports, the women’s team sought $66 million under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

Last Friday, Klausner said he would not allow the equal pay allegations to go forward because the women’s national team previously “rejected an offer to be paid under the same pay-to-play structure” as the men’s national team. 

“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 in the 32-page decision. “Accordingly, plaintiffs cannot now retroactively deem their CBA (collective bargaining agreement) worse than the MNT (men’s national team) CBA by reference to what they would have made had they been paid under the MNT’s pay-to-play terms structure when they themselves rejected such a structure.” 

Levinson took issue with that reasoning, writing, “The argument that women gave up a right to equal pay by accepting the best collective bargaining agreement possible…in response to the Federation’s refusal to put equal pay on the table is not a legitimate reason for continuing to discriminate against them.” 

The U.S. Soccer Federation declined to comment on the appeal. According to the AP, the Federation agreed not to oppose the request, but did not agree with some of the characterizations made in the appeal.

Klausner did, however, allow other parts of the lawsuit to move forward last Friday, including the allegation that the U.S. Soccer Federation discriminated against the team regarding the money spent on commercial airfare, hotel accommodations and medical and training support services. That trial is currently scheduled for June 16 — but the team asked Klausner to delay the trial until the appeal has been resolved, the AP reported. 

First published on May 8, 2020 / 10:00 PM

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