The members of the United States women’s national team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit Friday against the United States Soccer Federation.
Filed in United States District Court in Los Angeles, the lawsuit accuses the federation of years of “institutionalized gender discrimination,” according to.
This step is the latest in a long-running standoff between members of the national team and the federation. The grievances expressed by the former relate to working conditions and pay equity.
In 2016, five women’s national team players filed a wage-discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. According to Das, the EEOC’s failure to resolve that matter prompted Friday’s lawsuit, just months before the USWNT kicks off a defense of its 2015 World Cup crown.
The lawsuit, which represents current and former players dating back to February 2015, seeks back pay and damages.
Two factors that may impede a potential ruling are the different collective bargaining agreements for the men’s and women’s sides with the federation and the fact that FIFA governs compensation for major tournaments. The last men’s World Cup had a pool of $400 million to be divided among 32 teams, compared to $30 million for 24 women’s teams.
The USWNT has achieved some measure of progress with the federation recently, as the two sides agreed to an improved collective bargaining agreement in 2017 amid the risk of a players’ strike on the eve of the Rio Olympics. In that instance, members of the USWNT called for increased compensation, improved working conditions that included no longer playing on artificial turf, and enhanced opportunities to pursue commercial deals through the union.
The unions representing the women’s team and its male counterpart both pledged their support Friday, with the latter: “… We are committed to the concept of a revenue-sharing model to address the U.S. Soccer Federation’s ‘market realities’ and find a way towards fair compensation.”
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