Equal pay for equal work is an idea that is now decades old. And it’s hard to argue with that simple proposition. Indeed, both federal law, through the Equal Pay Act, and California law, through its own Equal Pay Act, require equal pay for “substantially similar work.”

The soccer players of the World Cup winning US Women’s National Team are trying to use this provision to achieve greater pay equality with their male counterparts. They filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in March 2016. The US Soccer Federation recently went public with a response that contends that the women are paid roughly equally with men – as a percentage of game revenue they create.

The case will be complicated by the fact that the women and men are paid very differently. The women on the national team are paid a guaranteed salary and receive other protections like severance pay, injury pay, and paid maternity leave. The men, on the other hand, are paid on a strictly pay-to-play basis on a per game or per event basis.

The EEOC will investigate the players’ complaint and make a determination. The dispute may then end up in court. Of course, the parties may also reach an agreement to resolve the issue – the players are represented by a union and collectively bargain their pay deal with the U.S. Soccer Federation.

If you are a woman and believe that you are paid less than a male counterpart, you, like Carli Lloyd and our other soccer stars, may have a claim under the Equal Pay Act.
For more information on the Equal Pay Act, see these FAQs from the EEOC.

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