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Legal Insider: U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Members File Unequal Pay Complaint

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This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement, and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry

As has been widely reported in the news recently, five members of the U.S. women’s soccer team filed a gender wage discrimination complaint regarding the disparity between their salaries and those of the U.S. men’s soccer team. In light of the extremely strong and noteworthy facts in this case, we thought it might be interesting to take a closer look at some of the potential disparate pay issues in this high profile complaint.

As above-mentioned, the case currently involves the five team captains of the U.S. women’s soccer team, including Hope Solo and Carli Lloyd, who filed a wage discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of all members of the women’s team against the U.S. Soccer Federation. The women claim that the U.S. Soccer Federation was paying members of the men’s soccer team more than the women’s team members. Some of the details revealed about the complaint suggest that the women’s soccer team members have a very strong case, which is not always typical in most equal pay cases. Usually, it is hard to prove the disparities in pay between men and women. Yet, that does not seem to be the case in this matter.

The women note that they are paid between 28% and 62% less than the men depending upon certain variables. The members of the U.S. women’s soccer team receive $72,000 for playing 20 regular season games, compared to the men whose members each make a minimum of $100,000 for playing 20 regular season games. These amounts only represent base salaries. Women can make a bonus of $1,350 for winning a game, but receive no bonus for losing (yet men do).

Essentially, if a member of the U.S. women’s soccer team wins all 20 games, she will earn $99,000. Depending on the variables, if a U.S. men’s soccer team member wins all 20 games, he would have the potential to earn $263,320, essentially $164,000 more than a U.S. women’s soccer team member. If a U.S. men’s soccer team member loses all 20 games, he would still earn $100,000.

Given that the EEOC will have to investigate these disparities, it is important to note the following facts cited in the complaint and various media accounts:

  • In 2015, the U.S. women’s soccer team generated $20,000,000 more in revenue than the U.S. men’s soccer team;
  • The U.S. women’s soccer team won the World Cup in 2015, while the U.S. men’s soccer team finished 11th overall in 2015; and
  • The U.S. women’s soccer team won its third World Cup on July 5, 2015, in the most viewed soccer game in American television history.

Based on the complaint and information gleaned from media outlets, the case appears to present many strong facts demonstrating a disparity between the wages paid to the members of each U.S. national soccer team. Unless the matter settles, the complaint will likely lead to a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation filed by either the EEOC or the U.S. women’s soccer team members, which would end up in U.S. District Court. In light of the current facts that have been revealed, it would not be a surprise if the U.S. Soccer Federation settles the case.

We represent employees in employment matters. If you need assistance with a federal retirement or an employment issue, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

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