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U.S. women’s soccer stars appeal equal pay dismissal, seek postponed trial

Players from the United States Women’s National Team have appealed a federal judge’s decision to dismiss their claim of unequal pay. They also seek to postpone their June 16 trial.

The players filed the two motions Friday in federal district court in California following Judge R. Gary Klausner’s rejecting May 1 the players’ claim that they have been underpaid compared to their counterparts on the men’s team.

Klausner ruled the players “have not demonstrated a triable issue that WNT players are paid less than MNT players.”

The women players’ claims of unequal travel conditions and medical support still can go to trial, Klausner ruled. The trial had been scheduled for May 5, but was pushed into mid-June due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Klausner also granted on May 1 summary judgement to the United States Soccer Federation, rebuffing the players’ claim that they were forced to play on artificial turf more often than the men’s team. Players had claimed such play violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“Equal pay means paying women players the same rate for winning a game as men get paid,” Molly Levinson, the players’ spokeswoman, said in a statement. “The argument that women are paid enough if they make close to the same amount as men while winning more than twice as often is not equal pay.

“The argument that maternity leave is some sort of substitute for paying women players the same rate for winning as men is not valid, nor fair, nor equal.”

The lawsuit, filed in March, initially included 28 players who alleged that the federation used “institutionalized gender discrimination” toward the women’s team. It was filed under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The plaintiffs were granted class status in November, meaning players from 2015 to the present day can be represented. Seventy-two women have opted into the class. The players have asked for more than $66 million in damages.

“The argument that women gave up a right to equal pay by accepting the best collective bargaining agreement possible in response to the federation’s refusal to put equal pay on the table is not a legitimate reason for continuing to discriminate against them,” Levinson said.

“We are filing a motion to allow us to appeal immediately the district court’s decision so that the Ninth Circuit will be able to review these claims.”

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