U.S. Women’s National Team Files Complaint with EEOC
Five soccer players from the U.S. women’s national team made recent headlines with the filing of a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The players, including notables Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan, allege that female professional soccer players are paid significantly less by the U.S. Soccer Federation than their male counterparts, despite achieving more success and generating more annual revenue. Last year the U.S. women’s national team brought home soccer’s coveted World Cup and in recent years have racked up more trophies than the men, winning three World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals. This group, revered as some of the most successful female athletes in the country, alleges they earn an estimated 40% less than their male colleagues.
Drawing significant media attention are the statistical allegations in the complaint indicating that the U.S. women’s national team players are compensated $30,000 for making the World Cup team, while the men received over $68,000; likewise, the men’s team receives a $2.5 million bonus for making the World Cup field, while the women’s team receives nothing. Although these facts seem damning to the U.S. Soccer Federation at first glance, it is significant to note that it is soccer’s governing body, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), and not the U.S. Soccer Federation, that allocates the distribution of World Cup prize money.
Despite glamorous headlines by some media outlets that these players “filed a lawsuit” against the U.S. Soccer Federation, they have actually only engaged in complaint proceedings with the EEOC, the federal agency that enforces civil rights laws against workplace discrimination. The EEOC will conduct an investigation to determine whether evidence exists to support the players’ allegations. This is a necessary procedural requirement for all claims of discrimination. In Kansas, similar complaints, as well as concerns related to race, gender, and other protected classes, may be filed with the EEOC or the Kansas Human Rights Commission, depending on the nature of the alleged discrimination.