Players on the U.S. women’s football team have urged a federal appeals court to reinstate their equal pay lawsuit, saying their greater success compared to the American men’s side was not taken into account by a trial court judge who dismissed their case.
The group led by Alex Morgan sued the U.S. Soccer Federation in March 2019, contending they have not been paid equitably under their collective bargaining agreement that runs through to December 2021, compared to what the men’s team receives under its agreement that expired in December 2018.
The women asked for more than $66m in damages under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner in Los Angeles threw out the pay claim in May 2020, ruling that the women rejected a pay-to-play structure similar to the one in the men’s agreement and accepted greater base salaries and benefits than the men, who failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
The women have asked the ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overrule the trial court’s ruling and put their wage claim back on track.
“It held that compensation for the women and men was equal because the teams received about the same amount per game,” the players said in their appellate brief which was filed on Friday.
“That approach accounted for one measure of pay (games played) but not the other (performance). That was a significant error, because the performance bonuses make up most of the players’ pay, and the women were the best in the world, while the men were much less successful.
The USSF brief is due by August 23 and the players’ optional reply brief is due 21 days after the USSF submission. The case will likely be assigned to a three-judge panel for oral argument.