Things That Matter

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Demanded Equal Pay, Instead A Court Just Rejected Their Case

Women have been fighting for decades to achieve equality in the workplace: from being free from harassment or from being overlooked for promotions and new positions simply based on gender. But few fights have been as hard-fought and as important as the right to equal pay.

And few battles for this right have gone as mainstream and widespread as the fight being led by the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team – who have been fighting for the same pay as the U.S. men’s team. However, their battle just hit a major roadblock, but the team says they’re still moving forward.

A district judge in California has dismissed the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team’s claim of unequal pay. 

The reigning World Cup champion U.S. women’s soccer team is vowing to fight on after a judge dismissed their claim of unequal pay with their male counterparts. The judge said that their claims are not enough to warrant a trial.

The court caught many off guard with its May 1 ruling, which rejected before trial the team’s class claims under the Equal Pay Act and its pay bias claims under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The women say they’re paid less than the U.S. men’s team players because of their sex.

A spokesperson for the players, Molly Levinson, released a statement and said, in part, we are shocked and disappointed with today’s decision, but we will not give up on our hard work for equal pay. A couple of the prominent players, including Megan Rapinoe – tweeted, we will never stop fighting for equality. Tobin Heath said, this team never gives up, and we’re not going to start now.

According to the judge who handed down the decision, the women’s team actually makes more than the men’s national team.

Judge R. Gary Klausner said undisputed evidence shows the women were actually paid more per game than the men during the period at issue in the suit. And the women’s argument they would have made more if paid performance bonuses equal to the men’s was undercut by the women having negotiated a separate pay scheme with salaries and other fixed compensation instead of accepting the exclusively “pay-for-play” agreement the men play under, Klausner said.

The pay discrepancy is because of pay agreements that differ greatly between the two teams.

Credit: Robert Cianflone / Getty

The women’s and men’s teams ended up with substantially different agreements. The female players agreement allows the women to be compensated largely through salary guarantees, with additional opportunities for performance-based bonuses. On the men’s team, players do not earn salaries, but only bonuses, and therefore the men are only paid when they play.

The judge writes, “merely comparing what each team would have made under the other team’s CBA (collective bargaining agreement) is untenable in this case because it ignores the reality that MNT (men’s national team) and WNT (women’s national team) bargained for different agreements which reflect different preferences, and that the WNT explicitly rejected the terms that they now seek to retroactively impose on themselves…In May 2016, USSF offered the WNT a pay-to-play proposal similar to the MNT, but the WNT rejected it preferring an agreement that involved some element of guaranteed compensation.”

Though to be clear – that’s not how the women’s national team sees things and is why they’re pushing forward with their fight.

However, that’s not the way the women see it. On CBS This Morning, team co-captain Megan Rapinoe contradicted the judge’s assertion that the women turned down the men’s deal, “We asked to be under the men’s contract, and it was repeatedly refused to us, not only in the structure but in the total compensation. If we were under that contract, we would have earned at least three times higher.”

The women’s team still has substantial public support for their equal pay case. Joe Biden tweeted that if he becomes president he will not provide World Cup funding unless U.S. Soccer provides equal pay.

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Justice Amy Coney Barrett Just Issued Her First Opinion In Abortion Case And Cast Doubt On Future Of Roe V. Wade

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Justice Amy Coney Barrett Just Issued Her First Opinion In Abortion Case And Cast Doubt On Future Of Roe V. Wade

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It was no secret that if the Republican Party and Donald Trump got their way with the Supreme Court, that women’s health and reproductive rights would be under attack. Well, Trump installed his new justice, Amy Coney Barrett, to the court in November and she’s just issued her first opinion in a case related to access to abortion.

Amy Coney Barrett handed a victory to the White House and Conservatives regarding abortion.

Since taking her seat on the Supreme Court in November, Justice Coney Barretts’ opinions have escaped much scrutiny. However, her latest opinion in an abortion-related case is drawing scrutiny from both the left and the right for clues of how she might rule in the future.

The decision, issued despite objection from the court’s more liberal judges, reinstates a requirement for patients to pick up the drug, mifepristone, in person. Three lower courts had blocked the Food and Drug Administration’s in-person pick-up requirement for mifepristone during the coronavirus pandemic, citing the risks of contracting COVID-19 at a doctor’s office or a hospital.

Julia Kaye, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project, called the court’s decision “chilling” and one that “needlessly” endangers “even more people during this dark pandemic winter.”

In an interview with NPR, she added that people of color, like Black and Latinx patients, are at particular risk for health risks posed by COVID-19. Requiring them to go to a doctor’s office in person to pick up the drug threatens the health and lives of those patients, she said.

It’s the first abortion-related decision since last year’s swearing in of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whose presence on the high court bench ensured a new conservative majority. Abortion-rights advocates have been fearful of what a conservative majority could do to chip away at legal protections for abortion.

On the surface, this week’s abortion ruling is fairly minor but it has many women worried.

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In its ruling, the Court didn’t release a majority opinion, which means that the case doesn’t explicitly change existing legal doctrine. And the case concerns a policy that the Biden administration could likely reverse after President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

But, when you read between the lines, the case – FDA v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – warns of a dark future for abortion rights and women’s health.

The premise of pro-abortion rights decisions like Roe v. Wade (1973) is that the Constitution provides special protection to the right to an abortion that it doesn’t provide to other elective medical procedures. Yet, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor explains in dissent, American College effectively rules that a commonly used abortion drug may be regulated more harshly than any other legal medication.

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Survey Says Support For Abortion Has Risen In Mexico

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Survey Says Support For Abortion Has Risen In Mexico

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Abortion rights have been long-debated issues for countries across the globe. Always, when it comes to conversations about women’s reproductive rights, is the debate that decisions like these should be decided solely by the people directly affected. You know, the ones with uteruses. Surprisingly, the president of Mexico agrees.

Last Thursday, the president declared that he believed that the decision about whether the country should legalize abortion should be left up to women.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador stressed last week that the legality of abortion should be up to Mexico’s women to decide.

While López Obrador avoided revealing his actual position on the issue, he did say that a public consultation should be considered in the decision. In Mexico, the issue of abortion remains controversial and is still rejected by many Mexicans.

“It’s a decision for women,” Lopez Obrador explained one day after the Argentine Senate voted to make abortion legal. “It’s just that matters of this nature should not be decided from above.”

Lopez Obrador’s comments came soon after the Argentine vote was made and journalists in a news conference asked him whether he thought Mexico should take similar action.

Mexico, a majority Roman Catholic nation, is changing in its perception of abortion restrictions.

According to Reuters, “At the end of November, support for abortion stood at 48% in a survey, published by the news organizations El Financiero and Nación321 – a steep rise from the 29% recorded in March. The poll, based on telephone interviews with 410 participants, asked if respondents agreed that “the law should permit a woman the right to abortion.”

While abortion is legal in Mexico City and the state of Oaxaca, it remains illegal in most of the country with the exception of special circumstances.

According to Reuters, a “nationwide poll published in September 2019 by newspaper El Financiero showed that a woman’s right to abortion only had majority support in Mexico City and Baja California state.”

Sixty-three percent of people who took part in the survey said that they were against abortion rights while 32% were in favor. Fifteen thousand adults took part in the survey.

Various nations in Latin American ban abortion in totality. El Salvador, has in the past sentenced women to up to 40 years in prison. Until recently, only Cuba and Uruguay have allowed women to recieve elective abortions.

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