After years of fighting with the United States Soccer Federation over equal pay and equal treatment, the U.S. women’s national soccer team has had enough. The New York Times reported that the entire 28-member team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the USSF in federal court on Friday.
The players, including top stars like Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, and Carli Lloyd, are accusing the USSF of “institutionalized gender discrimination,” which affects every part of their jobs — and lives — as soccer players.
Equal pay is part of this lawsuit. The players say that the “institutionalized gender discrimination” has led to them playing more games than the men, and even though they win more of their games than the men’s team (they both qualified for and won the last women’s World Cup in 2015, while the men didn’t even qualify for the 2018 World Cup), they get paid less to do it.
The lawsuit goes beyond equal pay, and beyond the number of games they play. According to the New York Times, the players believe the gender discrimination has affected where they play games and how they travel. It’s affected their training, medical treatment, and even the coaching.
The USWNT’s issues with soccer’s governing body (and also their employer) goes back years, and equal pay was a major part. In 2016, five top USWNT players — Lloyd, Morgan, Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Hope Solo — filed a federal complaint against the USSF for wage discrimination. While the USSF and USWNT reached an agreement in April 2017 on a five-year collective bargaining agreement, the complaint was still outstanding. According to the New York Times, there has been no movement on the EEOC complaint for three years, which is what led the players to file their lawsuit.
The USWNT players are seeking unspecified back pay, damages, and other relief. The Times also reported that the players are seeking class action status for their lawsuit, with the goal of including any player who has played for the USWNT since Feb. 4, 2015.
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