“Hope” for Equal Pay for Female Athletes?
CHICAGO, IL – You would think that in 2017, women would be getting closer to equal pay for equal work and this should ring even truer if the women outperform the men in a company, right? Well, think again. The US is far from remedying the issue, and the US women’s soccer team is a prime example of the continuing inequality and gender discrimination.
In the world of international soccer, the US women’s team has been an international marvel, winning world and Olympic championships year after year. Meanwhile, the US men’s team has historically been mediocre. US Soccer, the governing body of both teams, pays members of the national teams who represent the US in international competitions; however, US Soccer happens to pay the women’s soccer team nearly 40% less.
Back in 2016, five of the women’s soccer team’s star players filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) citing the pay discrepancy, and stating that US Soccer shortchanged the women on per diems, bonuses, and appearance fees.
Inspirational US goalkeeper Hope Solo, 36-year-old, explained, “The numbers speak for themselves… We are the best in the world, have three World Cup championships, four Olympic championships, [yet the men’s players] get paid more to just show up than we get paid to win major championships.”
Almost a year after first initiating the EEOC discrimination case, Solo is reigniting discussions of the equal pay for woman. While Sold was sidelined after the Rio de Janeiro Olympics for calling Sweden’s team “cowards” for their defensive tactics during the games, she is back and looking forward to resuming playing. The superstar claims she has offers to play overseas.
Solo believes she has plenty of fight left in her, “Let’s be clear, a goalkeeper peaks a little bit later in their career, so I feel like I have many years ahead of me if that opportunity arises… I’m very happy with my career should I walk away from the game today, but I’m not one to retire. I have not retired.”
Before she was benched, Solo stood up for her rights against US Soccer management and actively lobbied for women’s athletes to earn equitable salaries to the male national team players. Moreover, now that she is back in the spotlight, she hopes to find greater equality than she was provided in the US.
Moreover, she now claims US Soccer engaged in unlawful retaliation because her “contract got terminated because of [her] fight for equal pay with the United States Soccer Federation.” Solo explained, “I’m not sure until the lawsuit is over, that anything will change that. In the meantime I’ve had great opportunities and great contract offers to go back overseas and play. Possibly you’ll see me overseas next year.”
While Solo may not be offered the salary to match her fame, her talents are in demand. Back in March 2017, her teammates voted for her to play with the 2019 World XI team. “I’ve always wanted to play in the 2019 World Cup… I’m in the best shape of my life in terms of my shoulder. I feel great. Should [the US] welcome me back then I will be in the goal competing and hopefully bringing back another World Cup trophy, but it’s highly unlikely they are going to ask for me to come back. But I’m here guys.”
Equal play for athletes playing a such a high level or professionally is a tricky subject. On the one hand the men are being paid amounts grossly above their equivalent women’s teams—just turn on ESPN and see how much coverage is provided for women in sports— yet, on the other hand, the men’s teams bring in much more revenue.
Each instance of unequal pay requires individual analysis by an employment attorney. There are many protections under Federal, state law, and for employees in New York City, under city law.
Under federal law, the 1963 Equal Pay Act, requires employers to pay men and women equally for doing the same work. The intent of the Act was to rectify the wage disparity for female workers. Successful claims under the Equal Pay Act involve cases where an employee is 1) working in the same place under similar working conditions, 2) doing equal work (requiring. the same skill, effort, and responsibility), and 3) a person of the opposite sex receives unequal pay.
Essentially all workers are covered by the Equal Pay Act, both women and men, and regulates the conduct of state, local, and federal governments and most private employers.
Under New York state law, workers are protected under the Achieve Equal Pay Act. This New York state Act essentially provides the same protections found under the federal law, but much more employee friendly. Moreover, the Achieve Equal Pay Act empowers females by making it unlawful for employers to prohibit employees from discussing their wages or the wages of other employees, provides anti-retaliation protection for employees, and carries extreme penalties for any lawbreakers.
All women (and men) have rights in the work place, especially the right to demand equal pay for equal work! The skilled New York City sexual harassment and discrimination attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC, have years of experience litigating claims of pregnancy discrimination. Working with our Philadelphia sexual harassment attorneys, we have recovered millions on behalf of our clients who have experienced sexual harassment discrimination. If you believe that you have been treated unfairly, do not hesitate to give our office a call, toll-free, at (800) 807-2209. for your free consultation.


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About Derek Smith

Attorney Derek T. Smith is an experienced sexual harassment & discrimination law litigator who has particular experience in the areas of workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, civil rights litigation, employment law and civil litigation.

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