Thursday, April 11, 2024

Analyzing the Women's Soccer Settlement for Gender Pay Equity

Joni Hersch & Delaney Beck, Gender Pay Equity: An Analysis of the USWNT's Soccer Settlement, Utah L. Rev. (2024)  

Even though the United States Women’s National Team (“USWNT”) has been far more successful than the United States Men’s National Team (“USMNT”), the team members have experienced unequal treatment from the United States Soccer Federation (“USSF”) since its inception. In March 2019, members of the USWNT filed suit against USSF, alleging that USSF had violated the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The complaint alleged that USSF had a policy of discriminating against the USWNT due to their players’ gender by paying them less than the USMNT and providing them with lesser employment conditions than those provided to the USMNT.

A final judgment on both the Equal Pay Act and Title VII claims would never be given, as both would eventually settle outside of court. We analyze the substantive legal and economic arguments made by both parties. We show that the USSF arguments in support of gender pay disparities were misguided and calculate what proper compensation by USSF to the USWNT and USMNT would have looked like from the 2015-2019 period of dispute. Although we frame our analysis in the context of the USWNT lawsuit, our analysis has far broader implications for pay equity. We illustrate how the outside market force argument in justification of lower pay for women may often be incorrect. We illustrate how the traditional Equal Pay Act requirement that an individual must work in the same physical location as their comparator to be considered similarly situated is faulty. This investigation is particularly timely and relevant in light of the substantial rise in remote work arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Equal Employment, Sports | Permalink


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