University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Morgan v. U.S. Soccer Federation EE-CA-0363
Docket / Court 2:19-cv-01717 ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Case Summary
This is a case about the Women’s National Soccer Team (WNT) suing the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) for gender discrimination. On March 8, 2019, members of the WNT filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiffs sued the ... read more >
This is a case about the Women’s National Soccer Team (WNT) suing the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) for gender discrimination. On March 8, 2019, members of the WNT filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiffs sued the USSF under the Equal Pay Act (EPA), 29 U.S.C. § 206(d) et seq., and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Represented by Winston & Strawn LLP, the plaintiffs sought damages & fees (including back pay), an injunction against the USSF engaging in its gender discrimination practices, a declaratory judgment that such practices were unlawful, and an adjustment to their wages and benefits. They claimed that the USSF had been paying them less than similarly situated male employees despite better performance in violation of the EPA. Their complaint also stated that the USSF has been treating them less favorably than their male colleagues in violation of Title VII, specifically with respect to “pay; playing, training and travel conditions; promotion of games; and support and development for games.”

The WNT has had world-wide success. It has been ranked first in the world according to FIFA’s Women’s World Rankings for ten of the past eleven years; it has won three World Cup titles and four Olympic Gold Medals; and has won numerous other awards and accolades. Plaintiffs alleged that because of this success, they spend more time training, competing, and participating in media sessions than their male counterparts. They furthermore contended that they earned more profit and/or revenue for the USSF than the Men’s National Soccer Team (MNT) during the period relevant to this case.

Despite this, the plaintiffs claimed that USSF has continued to treat its female employees worse than its similarly situated male employees. For non-tournament games called “friendlies”, the complaint calculated that if all games were won, the WNT would earn on average 38% that of the MNT. For the 2014 World Cup, the MNT earned $5,375,000 in “performance bonuses” after being knocked out in Round 16. In contrast, in 2015, the WNT earned only $1,725,000 after winning the entire World Cup. But the plaintiffs said that the disparate treatment extended to policies and practices as well. The WNT was much more often forced to play on inferior surfaces such as artificial turf, which affect the game and are more likely to lead to injury; the MNT has consistently received charter flights while the WNT has had to fly commercial; the USSF has allocated fewer resources for promoting WNT games than for promoting MNT games, and waited longer before announcing their games leading to reduced attendance; and the USSF charged less for tickets to WNT games than to MNT games, reducing the potential revenue from their games.

The WNT began collective bargaining for equal pay through their union in 2012, but the USSF has continually rejected their demands. In fact, in response to their 2012 demands, the USSF countered that they would only compensate the WNT for winning games against FIFA top-ranked teams (the MNT, by comparison, were always paid no matter the outcome of the game or the rank of the opposing team). According to the complaint, in 2016, a representative of the USSF claimed that “market realities are such that the women do not deserve to be paid equally to the men,” after openly admitting that the WNT outperformed the MNT in both revenue and profit the prior year. In 2017, the WNT proposed a revenue-sharing model to test these “market realities” wherein their pay would increase or decrease based on whether the USSF derived more or less revenue from WNT’s activities. The USSF rejected this proposal.

Upon filing the suit on March 8, 2019, plaintiffs filed a motion to transfer the case to Multidistrict Litigation, but this was denied on June 10, 2019. Defendant filed to transfer to the Northern District of California on May 23, 2019, but this was denied on July 1, 2019.

On August 20, 2019 the case was referred to mediation.

On September 11, 2019, plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification, which was granted on November 8, 2019. The order granted:
(1) Certification of a Rule 23(b)(2) class, defined as: "All WNT players on the team at the date of final judgment, or the date of the resolution of any appeals therefrom, whichever is later;"
(2) Certification of a Rule 23(b)(3) class, defined as: "All WNT players who were members of the WNT at any time from February 4, 2015 through the date of class certification;" and
(3) Conditional certification of a collective action pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 216(b), defined as: "All WNT players who were members of the WNT at any time from March 8, 2016 through the present."

On February 20, 2020, both parties motioned for summary judgment. On May 1, 2020, Judge R. Gary Klausner denied the plaintiff’s motion and granted the defendant’s motion in part. The EPA claim was denied because (1) the WNT was paid more both on a cumulative and average per-game basis than the MNT, and (2) the WNT failed to offer sufficient evidence that despite this, they were being undercompensated compared to the MNT. The Title VII claim, however, survived “insofar as it is based on (1) travel conditions (specifically, charter flights and hotel accommodations), and (2) personnel and support services (specifically, medical and training support).”

On May 8, 2020, the plaintiffs appealed the court's summary judgment decision. The court denied their motion on June 23, 2020, reasoning that if the plaintiff loses at trial, an appeal of all claims is likely anyway, so it would not make administrative sense to do so before the trial.

On July 29, 2020, the court scheduled a jury trial for January 26, 2021.

As of October 3, 2020, the case is ongoing.

Jack Kanarek - 10/03/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Discrimination-area
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Pay / Benefits
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Equal Pay Act, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 U.S.C. §§ 201-219
Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) United States Soccer Federation, Inc.
Plaintiff Description Players from the Women's National Soccer Team on behalf of a class of "All WNT players who were members of the WNT at any time from February 4, 2015 through the date of class certification" and another class of "All WNT players on the team at the date of final judgment, or the date of the resolution of any appeals therefrom, whichever is later."
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 03/08/2019
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
C.D. Cal.
08/06/2020
2:19-cv-01717
EE-CA-0363-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
C.D. Cal.
03/08/2019
Plaintiffs' Collective Action Complaint for Violations of the Equal Pay Act and Class Action Complaint for Violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 [ECF# 1] (2019 WL 1199270)
EE-CA-0363-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
03/08/2019
Exhibit A to Complaint [ECF# 2]
EE-CA-0363-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
not recorded
06/10/2019
Order Denying Transfer [ECF# 51]
EE-CA-0363-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
07/01/2019
Civil Minutes - General [ECF# 56]
EE-CA-0363-0009.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
11/08/2019
Civil Minutes - General [ECF# 98]
EE-CA-0363-0008.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
02/20/2020
Plaintiffs' Notice of Motion and Motion for Partial Summary Judgment; Memorandum of Points & Authorities in Support [ECF# 170 (& 170-1 to 170-39)]
EE-CA-0363-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
02/20/2020
Defendant's Notice of Motion and Motion for Summary Judgment on Plaintiffs' Claims [ECF# 171 (& 171-1 to 171-6)]
EE-CA-0363-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
05/01/2020
Order Re: Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [DE 170]; Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [DE 171] [ECF# 250] (2020 WL 2214082)
EE-CA-0363-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
06/23/2020
Order Re: Plaintiffs' Motion for Entry of Judgment [DE 253] [ECF# 266] (2020 WL 4390368)
EE-CA-0363-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Caldwell, Karen K. (E.D. Ky.) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0005
Gorton, Nathaniel M. (FISC, D. Mass.) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0005
Huvelle, Ellen Segal (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0005
Kaplan, Lewis A. (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0005
Klausner, Gary (State Trial Court) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0006 | EE-CA-0363-0007 | EE-CA-0363-9000
Perry, Catherine D. (E.D. Mo.) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0005
Proctor, R. David (N.D. Ala.) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0005
Vance, Sarah S. (E.D. La.) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0005
Plaintiff's Lawyers Feher, David G. (New York) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0001 | EE-CA-0363-0003 | EE-CA-0363-9000
Kessler, Jeffrey L. (New York) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0001 | EE-CA-0363-0003 | EE-CA-0363-9000
Leiden, Diana Hughes (California) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0001 | EE-CA-0363-0003 | EE-CA-0363-9000
Netter, Brian D. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Parsigian, Jeanifer E. (California) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0001 | EE-CA-0363-0003 | EE-CA-0363-9000
Saharsky, Nicole A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-9000
Spangler, Cardelle B. (Illinois) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0001 | EE-CA-0363-0003 | EE-CA-0363-9000
Tsukerman, Lev (California) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0001 | EE-CA-0363-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Egan, Chantelle C. (California) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0002 | EE-CA-0363-9000
Ferrari, Giovanna A. (California) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0002 | EE-CA-0363-9000
Finkel, Noah A. (Illinois) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0002 | EE-CA-0363-9000
Goodwin, Kara L. (Illinois) show/hide docs
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Gragert, Sarah M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Huang, Kuan (New York) show/hide docs
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Johnson, Michele D. (California) show/hide docs
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Kershaw, Kyllan B. (Georgia) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0002 | EE-CA-0363-9000
Luce, Cheryl A. (Illinois) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-9000
McLaughlin, Ellen E. (Illinois) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0002 | EE-CA-0363-9000
Peters, Kristen M. (California) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0002 | EE-CA-0363-9000
Smentek, Sharilee K. (Illinois) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0002 | EE-CA-0363-9000
Stolzenbach, Brian M. (Illinois) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-0002 | EE-CA-0363-9000
Wine, Jamie L. (New York) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0363-9000

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