June 02, 2016

Hirono Calls For Equal Pay For U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team

Senators Mazie K. Hirono, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and a broad coalition of their Senate colleagues called on the U.S. Soccer Federation to ensure that players on the U.S. Women’s National Team are paid fairly. The letter follows the filing of a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging players on the women’s team are paid significantly less than players on the men’s team.

The senators wrote:

 “The Equal Pay Act requires that employers pay men and women equally for doing the same work. Given that members of the men and women’s teams perform the same job duties, have jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibilities, and perform their jobs under similar working conditions, we are deeply concerned about the reported discrepancies in pay. 

 “We urge you to resolve this dispute quickly and ensure that the U.S. Women’s National Team is fairly compensated. You have an opportunity to be a leader on this issue and help pave the way towards equal pay for equal work for all women.”

The full text of the letter follows:

June 1, 2016

Sunil Gulati

President

U.S. Soccer Federation

1801 S. Prairie Avenue

Chicago, IL 60616

Dear Mr. Gulati:

            As senators committed to the principle of equal pay for equal work, we write to express our serious concern over the allegations raised by members of the U.S. Women’s National Team in a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

            The unprecedented success of the U.S. Women’s National Team has been a source of tremendous national pride. The team has won three World Cup titles and four Olympic Gold Medals and is currently ranked first in the world.

            As a result of their success, more and more Americans have become fans of the team and sport, and millions have tuned in to watch them play. According to your most recent annual report, the U.S. Soccer Federation (Federation) had initially projected a net loss for the national teams of approximately $430,000 for Fiscal Year 2015; however, due to the success of the U.S. Women’s National Team, the Federation now projects that it will post a $17.7 million profit. In Fiscal Year 2017, the Federation projects a net profit from the U.S. Women’s National Team of approximately $5 million compared to the loss of approximately $1 million for their male counterparts.

            Despite the success of the U.S. Women’s National Team and its contribution to the financial health of the Federation, the U.S. Women’s National Team members are paid substantially less than their male counterparts. We were shocked to see in the EEOC complaint that “a 20-game winning top tier [Women’s National Team] player would earn 38% of the compensation of a similarly situated [Men’s National Team] player.”

            We recently recognized Equal Pay Day on April 12, 2016, which represents how far into the year women must work to make up for the gender pay gap from the previous year. The average national pay gap is 21 percent meaning women earn 79 cents for every dollar a man earns. The complaint filed by the U.S. Women’s National Team is appalling but unfortunately similar to the pay disparity women experience across the country. 

            The Equal Pay Act requires that employers pay men and women equally for doing the same work. Given that members of the men and women’s teams perform the same job duties, have jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibilities, and perform their jobs under similar working conditions, we are deeply concerned about the reported discrepancies in pay. 

            We urge you to resolve this dispute quickly and ensure that the U.S. Women’s National Team is fairly compensated. You have an opportunity to be a leader on this issue and help pave the way towards equal pay for equal work for all women.

            Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter.