The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team recently brought suit against USA Soccer, claiming that female soccer players were paid significantly less than their male counterparts, even though their team was much more successful. The suit was filed before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged with enforcing workplace discrimination laws.
Specifically, the women’s team claims that their players are being paid as little as 40 percent of what the men earn, even though the team marched to its third World Cup title while the men’s team has been historically mediocre. The women also claim that they have been shortchanged on appearance fees, per diem payments and other forms of compensation.
U.S. Soccer sharply disputes the players’ accounts, claiming attendance figures indicating that the men’s team produced revenues and attendance figures that were twice as much as the women’s team. Additionally, U.S. Soccer claims that the television revenues for men’s soccer games generated multiple times what the women’s team garnered.
Despite the competing contentions, it appears that there are two questions to be answered. First, is the women’s team similarly situated to the men’s? If the answer is yes, are the profit generation standards such that the teams should be paid the same? Indeed, these questions are applicable in many other workplace settings, and the answers ostensibly will go a long way towards resolving gender pay disparities between men’s and women’s sports.
It remains to be seen how this dispute will be resolved. In the meantime, if you have questions about your rights and options in a gender pay dispute, an experienced employment law attorney can advise you.