Five members of the U.S. women’s soccer national team filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the U.S. Soccer Federation. In their complaint, Plaintiffs seek wage equality with their male colleagues. The players are asking for an investigation into the payment structure of U.S. Soccer. The complaint was filed by Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Alex Morgan.

According to an attorney for the players, members of the women’s national team are paid only 40 percent of what members of the U.S. men’s national team are paid. The women argue that they are the best women’s team in the world, have won three World Cup Championships and four Olympic Championships, but the men get paid more just for showing up than the women do for winning. The attorney for the players believes that the case is open and shut. The women’s team outperforms the men’s team on the field, but still earns only a fraction of what the men are paid. The players claim that they also earn less in bonuses, appearance fees, and even per diems than the men.

Typically, filing the complaint is the first step towards a potential investigation by the EEOC. The investigation normally leads to negotiations between the parties. The parties may agree to settle for back pay. The EEOC could then take an enforcement action against U.S. Soccer to ensure that discrimination does not occur in the future.

This case was not a surprise – the union that represents the female players has had an ongoing dispute over whether their collective bargaining agreement was valid. U.S. Soccer filed a lawsuit seeking to establish that the collective bargaining agreement only runs through December. The women involved in the case have also not ruled out a work stoppage, which could occur just ahead of the summer Olympics in Rio.

Discrimination in the workplace based on sex is illegal under both federal and state law. Sex discrimination involves treating a job applicant or an employee unfavorably because of that person’s sex. Discrimination against an individual because of gender identity, including transgender status or sexual orientation is also illegal.

Under the law, sex discrimination is forbidden in every aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, promotions, job assignments, layoffs, and other terms or conditions of employment. An employer cannot pay a woman less than a man simply because she is a woman. Under the Equal Pay Act, men and women must be given equal pay for equal work in the same establishment. Their jobs do not have to be identical, but they must be substantially equal. A job’s content, not its job title, will determine whether a job is substantially equal. Employers cannot pay unequal wages to men and women who perform jobs that require substantially equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and that are performed under similar working conditions within the same establishment.

At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty and Seth I. Rosenberg believe that any employer who discriminates on the basis of sex should be held legally accountable. If you have faced sex discrimination at work, and you live in the Oakland-San Francisco area, call the Oakland sex discrimination attorneys at Liberty Law at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. Our attorneys work with clients throughout the area, including Hayward, Tracy, Fairfield, San Jose, and the surrounding areas. Call us today to learn more or to schedule your free consultation. You may be entitled to unpaid wages, benefits, and more.

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