Five women with the 2015 World Cup winning U.S. women’s soccer team filed a wage-discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last month, seeking equal pay.
“Simply put, we’re sick of being treated like second-class citizens. It wears on you after a while. And we are done with it,” wrote Carli Lloyd, one of those five players, in an opinion piece published Monday in the New York Times.
Citing figures from the U.S. Soccer Federation, the lawsuit claims that even though the women’s team generated more than $20 million more in revenue in 2015 than the men’s team, the women earn approximately 25 percent of what the men make.
Tampa based Representative Kathy Castor says the women’s soccer suit is “very symbolic of the world that we’re living in today.”
To highlight Equal Pay Day, Castor held a news conference on Monday in the shadows of Raymond James Stadium, the site of where the U.S. women’s soccer team performed last month.
April 12 is the date that symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.
Women in the U.S. are still typically paid just 79 cents for every dollar earned by men, despite the fact that the Equal Pay Act was enacted in 1963. It’s even worse for women of color. African-American women still earn only 60 cents for every dollar earned by white non-hispanic man, and for Latinas working fulltime year round, it’s 55 cents for every dollar.
“So what happens over your lifetime is that families are short hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that impacts their retirement and their Social Security checks,” she says.
In fact, an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center says that the average American woman will earn about $430,000 less than a man over a 40-year career. For African-American women the losses mount to $877,480 and for Latino females they stand at over $1 million.
Castor is putting her faith in addressing the issue by as a co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, sponsored by Connecticut Democrat Rose De Lauro.
The bill would require employers to show pay disparity is truly related to job-performance, not gender. It also prohibits employer retaliation for sharing salary information with coworkers. Under current law employers can sue and punish employees for sharing such information. In addition, it strengthens remedies for pay discrimination by increasing compensation women can seek, allowing them to seek both back pay and punitive damages for pay discrimination. And it requires the Department of Labor to enhance outreach and training efforts to eliminate pay disparities.
Becky Sauerbrunn, co-captain of the U.S. women’s soccer team, has recently suggested that the team could boycott this year’s Summer Olympics in Brazil if the players’ salary demands aren’t met.
“We are reserving every right to do so and we’re leaving every avenue open,” Sauerbrunn told ESPNW. “If nothing has changed and we don’t feel any progress has been made, then it’s a conversation that we’re gonna have.”
Congresswoman Castor says the U.S. Soccer Federation could address the issue quickly.
“There is no real no active collective bargaining agreement in place right now,” she says. “It would not be that difficult to bring their pay scale up to that of the men.”
Castor calls it “outrageous” that the women don’t get paid for exhibition matches unless they win, whereas the men get paid for their participation in similar exhibition whether or not they win.
While Democrats like Castor support the Paycheck Fairness Act, some Republicans are advocating for other bills on the issue.
Nebraska Senator Deb Fisher says she is hoping for Democratic support for her narrowly focused bill allowing employees to share wage information. The Associated Press reports that New Hampshire Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte said she is working with House Republicans to get on board with her broader bill, modeled on one that passed in her home state of New Hampshire.