Judge Tosses Out U.S. Women's Soccer Team's Unequal Pay Claim From Lawsuit

A federal judge sided with the U.S. Soccer Federation on the women's claim that they were paid unfairly. Team co-captain Megan Rapinoe vowed to keep fighting.

A federal judge said Friday that members of the U.S. women’s national soccer team did not have enough evidence to support their claim that they weren’t being paid equally by the U.S. Soccer Federation.

U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner dismissed the women’s claim of inequity, a cornerstone of their lawsuit, and granted U.S. Soccer’s motion to dismiss the allegation that the federation violated the Equal Pay Act. 

The women’s team has won the World Cup championship four times and were back-to-back champions in 2015 and 2019. In their lawsuit, the players claimed that they were paid less than the U.S. men’s team despite doing the same amount of work.

Klausner denied that claim, saying that the U.S. Soccer Federation has provided evidence that the women’s team was paid more cumulatively and on “an average per-game basis.”

“The WNT [Women’s National Team] has been paid more on both a cumulative and an average per-game basis than the MNT [Men’s National Team] over the class period,” the court said in its summary judgment.

Klausner said that the women’s team “rejected an offer to be paid under the same pay-to-play structure as the MNT, and 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.”

“Accordingly, plaintiffs cannot now retroactively deem their CBA [collective bargaining agreement] worse than the MNT 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,” Klausner wrote in the order.

The lawsuit’s claim that U.S. Soccer violated the women’s rights under the Civil Rights Act remains.

In March, the women’s team drew attention to its protest against the U.S. Soccer Federation by wearing their warmup jerseys inside out, blocking the federation’s logo, during the national anthem before a match against Japan.

Molly Levinson, the women’s team’s spokesperson, said in a statement that the players were “shocked” by the judge’s decision and vowed to keep fighting for equal pay. 

“We are shocked and disappointed with today’s decision, but we will not give up our hard work for equal pay,” Levinson said. “We are confident in our case and steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that girls and women who play this sport will not be valued as lesser just because of their gender.”

The team’s co-captain Megan Rapinoe echoed Levinson’s call to continue pushing forward.

“We will never stop fighting for EQUALITY,” Rapinoe tweeted Friday night.”