The United States Women’s Soccer Team won their second straight World Cup in dominating fashion. Not only did they win, but they also became high-profile spokespersons for many social issues but particularly in the area of equal pay for women. This issue has been simmering for some time with an initial lawsuit by five players in 2016 on the topic. It reemerged International Women’s Day on March 8 when it filed a class action against U.S. Soccer Federation for making less money than the male players despite ongoing success at the highest levels. The suit was set aside until after the World Cup so the team could concentrate on their play, then the plan was to mediate the dispute.
Mediation breaks down
The mediation process broke down in mid-August, and a federal judge has set a court date of May 2020, which is just weeks before the Tokyo Olympics. When asked about the timing of the court date, team captain Alex Morgan told National Public Radio:
“I don’t think we know soccer without distraction. We feel like we have always been fighting for a seat at the table and we have always fought for everything that we’ve earned, so having the case be pushed up to May I think is good overall.”
Morgan went on to say that the dialogue could get ugly as the court date gets closer, but she expressed hope that the matter could still be resolved without going to trial. The team, she added, is not just fighting for its financial interests but also for generations to come.
A symbol for change
The impact of the USWST’s fight has already crossed over into areas of civil rights, equal pay and gender equality and will likely inspire others. Employers and human resource staff are advised to watch this case closely because it may prompt employees, correctly or incorrectly, to claim that they do not receive equal pay for their work. An employment law attorney can help stay ahead of this issue by reviewing a company’s employment practices.