A U.S. federal judge has thrown out a claim by players on the U.S. women's national soccer team that they were underpaid in comparison to the men’s soccer team.
In a 32-page decision Friday, U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner for the Central District of California said the women’s team themselves negotiated their pay structure and chose to forgo the higher bonuses that the men’s team received in order to gain other benefits, such as a higher base pay and the guarantee of more contracted players.
While the judge denied the players’ allegations that their pay violated the Equal Pay Act, he said the players’ allegations of discriminatory travel accommodations and medical support services can go to trial.
“We are shocked and disappointed with today’s decision, but we will not give up our hard work for equal pay," Molly Levinson, a spokeswoman for the women's players, said in a statement.
Megan Rapinoe, a co-captain of the women’s team, tweeted: "We will never stop fighting for EQUALITY."
The women soccer players argued their pay was less than what the men’s national team receives and asked for more than $66 million in damages. They sued the U.S. Soccer Federation under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In his ruling, the judge said the women’s team, “rejected an offer to be paid under the same pay-to-play structure” as the men’s team and “cannot now retroactively deem” their collective bargaining agreement is worse than that of the male players.
However, he said claims filed by the women players under the Civil Rights Act can go forward, including allegations that the U.S. Soccer Federation discriminated against the women’s team when it comes to training services, charter flights, housing and medical support.
Those claims are set to be heard June 16 in federal court in Los Angeles. However, the players plan to appeal Friday’s ruling, which could delay the trial.