This article originally appeared on Sportanddev.org. This article was also published in The Lawyer. Any opinions in this article are not those of Winston & Strawn or its clients. The opinions in this article are the author’s opinions only.
I recently took on one of the highest-profile cases in the history of gender equality in sports – the USA women’s football team’s gender discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). This case and its hoped-for successful outcome has potential ramifications far beyond professional sports as it could set an example for gender pay equity in the workplace on a global basis.
The U.S. team started the defense of their title at the World Cup in France on 8 June, with the pay equity lawsuit proceeding at the same time. The case was brought after years of struggle over this issue, as the most successful women’s team in the world continues to make much less than the U.S. men’s team, also employed by the USSF.
The unfairness of this discrimination was evident in the fact that the US women’s team has generated more revenue for the USSF than the men’s team since 2015, but still made considerably less in salaries and bonuses. They also have been more popular in the U.S. than the men’s team in recent years, due to their phenomenal success.
I had no hesitation when asked to lead this lawsuit with my Partner Cardelle Spangler, which was filed on 8 March this year – on International Women’s Day. All 28 members of the current team sued their employer, the USSF, for gender discrimination. The suit argued that male and female footballers have the same job – they play on the same size field; use the same size ball; have the same duration of matches; and play by the same rules. They also generate more revenue for the USSF, but get paid less.
Continue reading about Jeffrey’s hopes to achieve pay equity for the team and to inspire others to fight for gender equity here.
Hear directly from the U.S. women's soccer team this Washington Post video.