President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden listen to remarks by Megan Rapinoe, of the U.S. Soccer Women's National Team, during an event to mark Equal Pay Day in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 24. Pool File Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI | License Photo
July 23 (UPI) -- Megan Rapinoe and 27 other current and former United States Women's National Team players filed an appeal Friday in their ongoing gender-based pay discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, a player spokeswoman said.
"We believe in our case and know our value," Rapinoe said in a news release. "It's time the [federation] does, too."
The appeal is in response to federal Judge R. Gary Klausner's dismissal of the players' claims of unequal pay, compared to United States Men's National Team players.
Klausner issued a partial summary judgement, which dismissed most of the players' claims, in May 2020 at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Pasadena.
On Friday, the players filed their opening brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to try to reverse Klausner's decision.
"If a woman has to work more than a man and be much more successful than him to earn about the same pay, that is decidedly not equal pay and it violates the law," spokeswoman Molly Levinson said.
"And yet, that is exactly what the women players on the U.S. National team do -- they play more games and achieve better results in order to be paid about the same amount as the men's national team players per game.
"By any measure, that is not equal pay, and it violates federal law. Today, we filed our brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and we are confident the facts show intentional -- and ongoing -- gender discrimination by the U.S. Soccer Federation. We look forward to presenting our case to the court."
The players' brief asks the Ninth Circuit to send the case back to the district level so they can go to trial, which would allow a jury to decide if the federation provided equal pay to the players.
The federation issued a statement Friday, saying it is "committed to equal pay and to ensuring that our [women's team] remains the best in the world."
"In ruling in favor of [the federation] on the players' pay discrimination claims, the district court rightly noted that the [women's team] negotiated for a different pay structure than the [men's team] and correctly held that the [women's team] was paid more both cumulatively and on an average per-game basis than the [men's team]," the federation said.
"[The federation] is a non-profit with a mission to grow the game for every player, regardless of age, gender or ability level. The focus today is on supporting the [women's team] in their quest to win a fifth Olympic gold medal.
"Moving ahead, we will continue to seek a resolution to this matter outside of court so we can chart a positive path forward with the players to grow the game both here at home and around the world."
The players filed their initial lawsuit, which reached class-action status, on March 8, 2019. They cited years of "ongoing institutional gender discrimination," which they said impacted their compensation and working conditions.
In December, the players and the federation reached a settlement, which guaranteed that the federation would provide equal working conditions for the men's and women's teams. That settlement was approved by the district court in April.
"As outlined in the brief, [the federation] continues to rely on flawed and sexist logic in justifying their ongoing pay discrimination against the [players] -- even though the women have generated more revenue and TV viewership than the men," the players said.
"[The federation] pays players not only to play, but to win, and provides both the women's and men's teams performance bonuses for success on the field. But the district court said it was OK to make the women perform better than the men to get about the same amount of pay per game.
"Put another way, the district court penalized the players on the United States Women's National Team for their success."
The United States Women's National Team lost to Sweden in their first game of the postponed 2020 Summer Games on Wednesday in Tokyo. The setback snapped a 44-game unbeaten streak. The women's team faces New Zealand in another Group G match Saturday in Saitama, Japan.
The men's team failed to qualify for the 2020 Summer Games, which run through Aug. 8.
"We are working to ensure that the next generation of women soccer players has the opportunity to play for a federation who truly values their contributions and successes, and treats them as equal to -- not less-than -- their male counterparts," said Christen Press, a current player on the women's team in Tokyo.
"Anyone who knows this team knows that we do not give up until we win. That is what you can expect from us on the field -- and that is what you can expect from us in our fight for equal pay."
France goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni can't stop a goal from Mexico forward Uriel Antuna (not seen) in a Men's Group A soccer match during the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games on July 22. Photo by Bob Strong/UPI | License Photo