Earlier this week, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team reached a settlement in its class action lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. According to the complaint, which was initially filed back in 2016 and brought claims under Title VII and the Equal Pay Act, “the female players have been consistently paid less money than their male counterparts. This is true even though their performance has been superior to that of the male players.”
In May 2020, all hope seemed lost for the women’s team when a federal judge dismissed their claim on the grounds that there are differences in the structure of the men and women players’ contracts, which they agreed to in collective bargaining. Unsatisfied with the judge’s decision, the female players appealed in July 2021, and on Tuesday the U.S. Soccer Federation announced that it has agreed to pay a lump sum of $22 million in back pay to the players.
According to Megan Rapinoe, captain of the national women’s team, “”We feel like this is a huge win…[we] will have equal pay on everything moving forward,” She added. “It’s honestly kind of surreal. I feel like I need to take a step back. We’ve all been in the trenches of it for so long. I think I honestly don’t even understand how monumental this is.”
This case highlights some of the key differences between pay discrimination claims under the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and Title VII. For EPA claims, employees have more leeway when it comes to filing. Under the EPA, employees can file directly in court within 2 years of the violation (3 years if its willful), whereas under Title VII employees must file with the EEOC within 300 days. Additionally, while employees bringing Title VII pay discrimination claims must prove that their jobs are substantially equal to that of a higher paid male, EPA claims don’t have this same requirement. Additionally, employees may receive liquidated damages under the EPA that are not available under Title VII. On the other hand, the EPA is limited to claims based strictly on sex, whereas employees may bring pay discrimination claims under Title VII that are based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, color, religion, or national origin.
If you have questions about wage discrimination, or any other area of employment law, contact Thatcher Law Firm at 301-441-1400. www.ThatcherLaw.com. Follow us on: