Although the hearing for the final approval will only take place on December 5, everything seems to indicate that there is an absolute green light for the agreement between women’s soccer players and the United States Soccer Federationsince the federal judge Gary Klausner approved in first instance the motion presented by the players.
“The most significant thing is that the uncontested settlement agreement achieves the plaintiffs’ litigation goal: pay equity. The court is satisfied that the settlement is a fair and reasonable resolution”, Klausner wrote in his verdict.
A group of players, which includes the World Cup players Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Alex Morganfiled a formal complaint with the Federal Employment Equalities Commission in April 2016. Three years later, the players doubled down and they sued the Federation for monetary compensation, relying on the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
The demand had several edges. On the one hand were the working conditions, which were the first to be resolved. For december 2020the players and the Association had reached an agreement about the flight conditions in case they had to travel for work, the hotels in which they could stay and the surfaces on which they were willing to play.
But the monetary compensation part involved a more difficult negotiation, and only in February 2022 reached an agreement whereby the remaining 22 million dollars would be distributed in various amounts depending on the player. In addition, the United States Soccer Federation is required to create a $2 million fund to support players when they retire and to carry out charitable actions that promote women’s soccer in the country.
Klausner further detailed that the parties agreed that the settlement funds will be distributed to the players based on each player’s playing time. The lawyers of each one of them promised not to request more than 30% of the total fund for their client.
The judge established a 14-day period for other players to join the deal. After those two weeks, each lawyer will have 21 days to notify their client of the agreement. The final approval will be on December 5, which will be made by the same judge, where the only difference that is expected is that the amount that they must pay the lawyers is known.
But beyond this particular arrangement of a group of players, The agreement has significance for the entire league because from the beginning they clarified that the agreement depended on the Federation reaching collective bargaining agreements to pay the men’s and women’s teams equally. Last May, the Federation announced separate employment contracts until December 2028 for the unions of both national teams in which it already respected equal pay.
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