USWNT agrees to mediation over equity lawsuit
The 28 members of the U.S. women's national team who filed a pay discrimination suit against soccer's governing body in March have tentatively agreed to mediation after the World Cup ends, a spokesman for the U.S. Soccer Federation confirmed Friday.
The suit, filed in federal court on March 8, seeks equitable pay and treatment, in addition to damages including back pay for the team, which has won three World Cups and four Olympic gold medals. Among the players involved in the suit are stars Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd.
The women's national team is in France playing in the 2019 World Cup, where it is favored to repeat as champion. The team has wrapped up group play with three wins in three games and without conceding a goal.
"Here to win a World Cup, lawyers are at home to do their thing, so we both have our jobs," defender Kelley O'Hara said Saturday. "This team has always been good at compartmentalizing. We focus on the task at hand, and I haven't paid any mind on anything that's been going on. That's something we'll pick back up when we get home, but right now, my only focus is winning the World Cup."
Defender Ai Krieger said she hasn't given the lawsuit any thought.
"Right now we're so focused on the game against Spain, and that's what's important for us right now," she said.
The lawsuit alleges "institutionalized gender discrimination" toward the team. It was filed under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. It notes that the women's players are required to play more games than the men's team and win more of those games yet still receive less pay from the federation. In addition to the complaints about wages, the suit also notes issues with where and how often the women's team played, medical treatment and coaching.
The suit mirrors the complaints made in a charge filed in 2016 by Lloyd, Morgan, Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and former goalkeeper Hope Solo with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. That complaint said that the women's national team members were paid almost four times less than the men in 2015 despite generating significantly more revenue that year. With that complaint stalled, the players received permission from the EEOC in February to sue instead.
The agreement to mediation after the World Cup was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
The final is scheduled for July 7.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.