A proposed $24 million settlement between US women’s soccer players and the sport’s US governing body was given preliminary approval Thursday by a federal judge, who scheduled a December 5 hearing for final approval.
US District Judge R. Gary Klausner approved the motion for sanction filed by the players.
“Most importantly, the uncontested settlement serves the plaintiff’s goal for litigation: equal pay,” he wrote. “The court is satisfied that the settlement is a fair and just solution.”
Players including Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrun and Alex Morgan filed complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in April 2016. The players sued three years later, seeking damages under the federal Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
The sides settled part of the working conditions in December 2020 to deal with issues such as charter flights, accommodation and playing surfaces.
They agreed in February to settle the balance at $22 million to be split into individual amounts proposed by the players. In addition, the agreement calls for the US Soccer Federation to set up a fund with $2 million to benefit players in their soccer careers and charitable efforts aimed at enhancing the sport for women.
Klausner wrote that the parties agreed that the settlement funds would be distributed to the players on a basis of play time and that their lawyers estimated the request to be “no more than approximately 30% of the common fund”.
The agreement was contingent on the USSF reaching collective bargaining agreements to pay its men’s and women’s teams equally. The federation in May announced separate labor contracts for both national teams with unions until December 2028.
Klausner asked the USSF to send a list of eligible players to the players’ attorneys within 14 days, and then 21 days later to notify the players’ attorneys that qualified players were eligible for the settlement.
Klausner set a December 1 deadline for filing attorneys’ fees and motions for final approval.
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