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U.S. women's soccer team files discrimination lawsuit

In a lawsuit filed in a California district court on March 8, the U.S. women's soccer team accuses the sport's governing body of gender discrimination. The litigation alleges that the United States Soccer Federation, which is more commonly referred to as U.S. Soccer, pays female players less than men even though they perform substantially similar work. The lawsuit is the latest development in a long-running pay equity dispute and comes just months before the women's team begins its defense of the World Cup it won in 2015. The victory was America's third in the competition.

The 28 plaintiffs, which include some of women's soccer's biggest stars, hope that former national team players will step forward to join the lawsuit. Animosity over pay and working conditions disparities have festered among female players for many years. In 2000, the team boycotted a tournament in Australia over these issues shortly after winning their second World Cup.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission gave four of the plaintiffs the right to sue after no progress was made on a discrimination claim they filed in 2016. In addition to being paid far less than male players despite being much more successful on the field, the women claim that discrimination influences the facilities they are provided for training, their travel to and from matches and even the quality of their coaching.

The defendants in lawsuits such as this one often seek a negotiated settlement to avoid publicity and protect their reputations. Attorneys with experience in gender, age and race discrimination cases may encourage employers to settle quickly by gathering as much evidence as possible before initiating litigation. Evidence that might add weight to discrimination claims includes copies of compensation plans, interoffice communications such as emails and details of adverse action taken against the plaintiff.

Source: NPR, U.S. Women's Soccer Team Sues U.S. Soccer For Gender Discrimination, Laurel Wamsley, March 8, 2019

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