The U.S. women's national soccer team has sued the U.S. Soccer Federation, seeking equal pay to that of their male counterparts.
All 28 members of the current women’s national team joined in the class-action lawsuit arguing they have been subject to ongoing “institutionalized gender discrimination.”
The lawsuit, which was filed Friday in federal court in Los Angeles, seeks equitable pay and treatment to players on the men's national team as well as damages including back pay. It claims years of discrimination not just in terms of pay, but also with regards to travel conditions, training, access to medical personnel, and the promotion of games.
The suit was filed on International Women's Day and comes just three months before the women’s soccer team will defend its World Cup title in France.
"Each of us is extremely proud to wear the United States jersey, and we also take seriously the responsibility that comes with that," U.S. co-captain Alex Morgan said in a statement. “We believe that fighting for gender equality in sports is a part of that responsibility.”
The suit was filed under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and come three years after several women soccer players made a similar complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The lawsuit claims that the U.S. Soccer Federation “has admitted that it pays its female player employees less than its male player employees and has gone so far as to claim that 'market realities are such that the women do not deserve to be paid equally to the men.'”
The U.S. Soccer Federation did not immediately comment on the suit. The organization has said in the past that much of the disparity between the men's and women's teams is the result of separate collective bargaining agreements. It has said the women’s team set up its payment structure to include a guaranteed salary rather than a pay-for-play model like the men.