TOKYO – On the eve of their second game at the Tokyo Olympics, the U.S. women filed an opening brief in the appeal of their equal pay lawsuit against U.S. Soccer, saying the decision to dismiss it was based on flawed legal reasoning and “defies reality.”
The brief, filed Friday with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, asks that the decision be reversed and the case be sent back to district court to be heard by a jury.
“We believe in our case and know our value,” Megan Rapinoe said in a statement. “It’s time (U.S. Soccer) does too. LFG.”
The entire national team sued U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination in March 2019, three months before the World Cup began. They alleged that they had been paid less than the U.S. men’s team, required to win more games to make roughly the same amount of money. They also alleged discriminatory working conditions, including being forced to play games on artificial turf when the men were not.
The U.S. women’s national team appealed the decision to dismiss their equal pay lawsuit, arguing that the judge’s ruling “defies reality.”
U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner issued a summary judgment in U.S. Soccer’s favor in May 2020, throwing out the equal pay portion of the lawsuit. But the USWNT players said Klausner erred in his reasoning.
Klausner used the wrong legal standard, the players said, by not accounting for performance when he found that the women and men had made roughly the same amount. Klausner also weighed the evidence himself when he should have allowed a jury to decide it, the women said in their brief.
“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,” Molly Levinson, spokeswoman for the USWNT, said in a statement. “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.”
U.S. Soccer disputed that, and said Klausner was right to find that the men’s and women’s team had different contracts.
“The focus today is on supporting the Women’s National Team in their quest to win a fifth Olympic Gold Medal,” U.S. Soccer said in a statement. “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 filing comes a day before the USWNT plays New Zealand in a must-win game for its hopes of becoming the first reigning World Cup champions to win Olympic gold. The Americans were embarrassed in their opener against Sweden on Wednesday night, a 3-0 loss that was their worst in a major tournament since the 2007 World Cup, and now sit in last place in Group G.
Only the top two teams in each group are guaranteed to advance to the knockout rounds, along with the two best third-place teams.
“It’s an honor to compete alongside the best soccer players in the world,” captain Becky Sauerbrunn said in a statement. “It’s an even greater honor to stand together in our fight for what matters – equal pay for equal work.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: USWNT files brief in appeal of equal pay lawsuit during Tokyo Olympics