On Tuesday, February 22, 2022, a settlement was announced between the U.S. Soccer Federation and the U.S. Women’s National Team (“USWNT”) Players to end their equal pay and pay discrimination litigation.
The parties announced that the U.S. Soccer Federation will pay $22 million to the players. An additional $2 million will be paid into an account “to benefit the USWNT players in their post-career goals and charitable efforts related to women’s and girls’ soccer.”
The federation has also committed to paying an equal rate of pay to the women’s and men’s national senior teams in all future friendlies and tournaments.
The litigation stems from 2016 when five members of the USWNT filed a Federal Equal Pay complaint claiming they were paid less than the U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) at almost all levels of competition. In 2019, 28 players sued U.S. Soccer alleging they were paid less than the men despite their better performance. In 2020, a federal judge found the women actually made more money than the men over the relevant time period and dismissed their suit. In 2021, several players appealed the dismissal asking the judge to look at the rates of pay and performance requirements for women to earn more than the men. The appeal was set to be heard on March 7, 2022. The parties have now requested the appeal be removed from the argument calendar.
During the time period in question, the USWNT won back-to-back FIFA Women’s World Cups in 2015 and 2019. The USMNT did not qualify for the 2018 FIFA Men’s World Cup.
The settlement is contingent upon the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement. Operating under a Memorandum of Understanding, parties have until the end of March to reach a new collective bargaining agreement. Once an agreement has been reached, the parties will ask the district court for final approval of the settlement.
The case is Morgan et al. v. U.S. Soccer Federation Inc., case number 21-55356, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
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