Labor & Employment

Top women's soccer players allege wage bias in EEOC complaint

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Five prominent soccer players on the women’s national team have filed a wage bias complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that says they are paid less than men despite generating more money and more wins.

Lawyer Jeffrey Kessler of Winston & Strawn filed the complaint on behalf of the women on Wednesday, report the New York Times, the Washington Post and ESPN. The complainants are co-captains Carli Lloyd and Becky Sauerbrunn, forward Alex Morgan, midfielder Megan Rapinoe and goalkeeper Hope Solo.

The women say their team generated nearly $20 million more in revenue last year than the men’s national team, yet the women are paid almost four times less, according to ESPN. The U.S. Women’s National Team won the 2015 World Cup and were paid $2 million for their win, the Daily News reports. The U.S. men finished in 11th place in the 2014 World Cup, but were awarded $9 million. The German men’s team that won the 2014 World Cup was paid $35 million.

Kessler told the Washington Post that the case “fits squarely into the Equal Pay Act.”

U.S. Soccer said in a statement that it can’t comment on the specifics of the complaint, but “we are disappointed about this action. We have been a world leader in women’s soccer and are proud of the commitment we have made to building the women’s game in the United States over the past 30 years.”

U.S. Soccer is expected to argue that the differing salaries are governed by collective bargaining agreements, according to the New York Times. The agreement expired in 2012, but it was continued under a memorandum of understanding signed in early 2013. The union claims the memorandum can be terminated at any time, while U.S. Soccer says in a suit filed in February that the agreement continues until the end of 2016.

Updated at 11:53 a.m. to add statistics about the World Cup monetary awards.

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