This week I wanted to address a news item about the women’s U.S. national soccer team. These players have very high earning potential (depending upon their performance in the World Cup.) Unfortunately for their employer, the U.S. Soccer Federation, the men’s national team has even higher earning potential (depending upon various issues mentioned below.) This brings up that compensation specter: the Equal Pay Act. The Equal Pay Act provides that those performing equal work requiring equal skill and effort must be equally paid.
The Federation settled an Equal Pay Act and sexual discrimination lawsuit filed by the women’s national team players by paying them $24 million (in total; $22 million is paid outright to the women and their lawyers). The settlement is contingent upon the players entering into a new collective bargaining agreement with the Federation and court approval.
This is the real headache: the Federation still has to reconcile the current pay structures to ensure equity. At the moment, male players get $407,608, and a woman makes $110,000 if their team wins the World Cup. Women receive $37,500 for making a World Cup team; men receive $67,000. The men’s team receives pay even if they lose to a team outside the top 25 in the FIFA rankings and a bonus of $9,375 for winning. Women receive nothing for losing and $5,250 if they win.
It really doesn’t matter if the women’s team deserved this win. It was very expensive for the Federation, cast it in a very negative light, and they ended up paying a lot of money to get rid of these expenses and ensure the women will play. So audit your company to ensure that those who are performing the same or very similar jobs are receiving the same money and benefits under the same working conditions (guaranteed by Title VII). And remember, the amount someone is making is NOT confidential information. Prohibiting workers from discussing pay violates the National Labor Relations Act. So people can compare notes.
Tell me about your experiences with equal pay issues, or contact me for more information on audits.
ABOUT KATHERINE WITHERSPOON FRY
For over 25 years, Katherine has provided her clients with robust representation in matters of employment and related business law. Katherine represents and counsels employers and executives in all facets of the employment relationship, including hiring, termination, discrimination, non-competition, Fair Labor Standards Act matters, issues regarding Family and Medical Leave and other leaves, whistleblowers’ complaints, and regulatory matters. As a litigator, she is well aware of the nuances of law necessary to draft effective restrictive covenants, severance agreements, and employment contracts. Along with her over 250 colleagues, she represents companies and non-profit organizations of all sizes. She has defended companies under investigation by both U.S. and state Departments of Labor and handled multiple matters before the EEOC.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
Offit Kurman, one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the United States, serves dynamic businesses, individuals and families. With 17 offices and nearly 250 lawyers who counsel clients across more than 30 areas of practice, Offit Kurman helps maximize and protect business value and personal wealth by providing innovative and entrepreneurial counsel that focuses on clients’ business objectives, interests and goals. The firm is distinguished by the quality, breadth and global reach of its legal services and a unique operational structure that encourages a culture of collaboration. For more information, visit www.offitkurman.com.
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