The United States women’s national soccer team has been fighting for equal pay for women in soccer and creating awareness for the issue with the gender pay gap across other sports as well.
On Friday, the women were granted class status on the gender discrimination lawsuit by the judge in charge of the case, Judge R. Gary Klausner of United States District Court for the Central District of California.
This is a crucial win for the women, who are arguing for justice over unequal work conditions, marketing, support and as mentioned, pay.
In September, the players sought out for this class-action status.
The judge’s ruling dismissed U.S. Soccer’s statement that there could not be discrimination under federal law because some of the women earned more pay than the highest-paid men’s players over the period of time discussed in the case.
The judge continued, saying that agreeing with the federation’s argument would create an “absurd result” that would support a claim that in a workforce, a woman could be paid half as much as a man for doing the same work, as long as she was able to work harder and longer hours to even how much pay was given by the end of the year.
The judge did not just look at the money that was being paid to the women, as U.S. Soccer was suggesting, but how the money was being made and whether the work and conditions were fair and in line with equal rights and equal pay.
USWNT player and World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe said on U.S. Soccer’s argument, “Nice try. No one bought it.”
Rapinoe responded to the important win for her and her teammates in a telephone interview and despite knowing what they are doing is right, validation is still crucial. She said (Via New York Times).
“Sometimes it’s just nice for someone to say, ‘I believe you and I am validating what you’ve been saying. We have an internal belief in what we’re doing. But to have someone, and in this case someone very important in this case, say, ‘I believe what you’re saying,’ is very important.”
Klausner sped up the process in August by making the trial date for May 2020, coming very close to the summer Olympics in Toyko, where the team is expected to compete.
Rapinoe has yet to say for certain whether the team would be open to new mediation after the failed attempted at it in August. ‘We’re the only team they can have, they’re the only federation we can have,” she said, adding that “everyone’s here.”
She has not completely written off the idea but would need to see changes before fully getting on board.
“If the conversation can move forward, if we get further along in the process, potentially we can get back together,” she said. “But we’re going to need to see quite a bit more.”
It could come down to an out-of-court agreement, which the new USWNT head coach, Vlatko Andonovski, alluded that he would be in favor of.