U.S. Soccer Federation


Morgan v. U.S. Soccer Federation

No. 21-55356

United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit

San Francisco, CA — On Wednesday, Independent Women’s Law Center (IWLC) filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit arguing that the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team was not denied equal pay because the team earned more money than the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team. In addition, the players on the women’s team negotiated for and received guaranteed salaries, healthcare, severance pay, and other generous benefits that the players on the men’s team did not receive. 

The women’s team filed a lawsuit in 2019, alleging its players were victims of pay discrimination. They lost in district court in May 2020. On appeal, the women acknowledge they were paid more than the men but argue that, in light of their winning record, they should have been paid according to the terms of the men’s contract, which would have given them larger per-game bonuses.

The contract negotiated by the women’s union provided higher base salaries, but lower performance bonuses than the men’s contract. The women’s contract guaranteed that the players would receive their base salaries irrespective of whether the players attended training camp or took the field and irrespective of the team’s wins and losses—a decision that proved incredibly wise and lucrative when COVID-19 shut down play and the women’s team continued to be paid, while the men’s team did not. 

IWLC’s brief argues that the Ninth Circuit should not overturn the terms of the collective bargaining agreement pursuant to which the players were paid. Specifically, IWLC contends that a ruling in favor of the women’s team will undermine the right of women to negotiate beneficial contracts that are different from those sought by men.

Jennifer C. Braceras, director of Independent Women’s Law Center, issued the following statement: “A ruling requiring the U.S. Soccer Federation to pay the female players even more than they collectively bargained for might benefit these celebrity appellants, but it will rob ordinary female workers of the ability to negotiate favorable workplace arrangements that differ from those of their male peers. It will also undermine our nation’s policy in favor of collective bargaining.”

May Davis, visiting fellow at Independent Women’s Law Center, said, “The contract the women’s team bargained for and secured not only paid the players more per-game than the male players, but allowed the women to continue collecting salaries during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite not playing any games. The notion that their decision to sign a lucrative and low-risk contract is now, in hindsight, an Equal Pay Act violation, is simply absurd.” 

Inez Stepman, senior policy analyst at Independent Women’s Forum, added, “The women’s team signed a contract with certain risks and rewards. It’s ridiculous now for them to say that they should be paid under a different set of rules. These players are using the concept of Equal Pay as a political ploy to further enrich themselves. It is shameful.”

Read the brief HERE.


Independent Women’s Forum is dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities.

Independent Women’s Law Center advocates for equal opportunity, individual liberty, and respect for the American constitutional order.