In a landmark victory for America’s working women, the United States National Women’s Soccer Team (USWNT) agreed to a $24 million settlement in a lawsuit seeking equal pay with their male counterparts. The team had argued they were paid only a fraction of what the U.S. Men’s National team earned, despite generating more revenue. This settlement brought much-needed relief to the players and set an important precedent for future wage discrimination cases.

Now, the USWNT is helping their Canadian rivals in the same pursuit against the Canada Soccer Federation. When the two teams competed in the SheBelieves Cup on February 16, 2023, both squads wore purple as a symbol of the protest—Team Canada donned purple shirts with “Enough Is Enough” printed on the front while Team USA wrapped purple tape around their wrists in solidarity. 

Equal Pay Act

The federal Equal Pay Act (EPA) is a critical piece of legislation addressing the gender compensation gap and eradicating gender-based wage discrimination in the U.S. This civil rights law prohibits employers from paying unequal wages to employees performing similar work simply because of different genders.

The EPA goes beyond traditional job titles and descriptions to ensure all employees receive fair wages. The law requires employers to compare two jobs that require a comparable level of skill, effort, and responsibility and are performed under similar working conditions within the same business establishment. This means employers cannot pay employees doing similar jobs differently based on their genders.

U.S. Soccer Federation Lawsuit

Enacted in 1963, enforcing the EPA continues to be a struggle due to persistent gender-based wage disparities across sectors. The USWNT’s lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation illustrates that ongoing need. The suit claimed female players were subject to pay unjustly lower than their male counterparts despite performing better and generating more revenue for the federation than the men’s team.

Filed on International Women’s Day 2019 (March 8), the lawsuit alleged that “the female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts. This is true even though their performance has been superior to that of the male players—with the female players, in contrast to the male players, becoming world champions.” 

The parties settled the lawsuit out of court with approximately $24 million in compensation to women players. The settlement also included a pledge from the federation to equalize pay for the men’s and women’s soccer teams in all competitions moving forward. 

Sommers Schwartz Helps You Get Paid What You Deserve

If you believe you have been a victim of gender-based pay discrimination, Sommers Schwartz can help. We will scrutinize any alleged Equal Pay Act violations and advise you about your right to compensation. Contact a Sommers Schwartz EPA attorney today to confidentially discuss your case and learn how we can help.

Kevin J. Stoops

View all posts by
Kevin J. Stoops

Kevin Stoops is an experienced trial attorney who appears frequently in Michigan state courts and federal courts across the United States, representing clients in complex business litigation. He has vast experience and a track record of successful outcomes high-dollar matters involving trade secret, business tort, intellectual property, executive employment, and class action claims.