On May 18, 2022, the U.S. women's soccer team entered into a ground-breaking, new collective bargaining agreement with the U.S. Soccer Federation that will guarantee that the women will be paid at the same rate for all game appearances and tournament victories as the men's team. This new labor agreement memorializes a February 2022 settlement reached with the U.S. Soccer Federation after years of hard-fought litigation. Under the settlement, U.S. Soccer will be paying some $24 million in back pay and damages to the women on the team. Both accomplishments—the new labor agreement and the settlement of the litigation—are huge wins for the women's equal pay movement, and they will hopefully set a precedent for other sports teams and employees in other professions fighting for equal pay.
Our New Jersey employment law attorneys discuss the equal pay movement and how this latest victory was achieved. We will also look at the laws relating to equal pay in New Jersey and what you can do if you feel that you are not being paid fairly.
A Win For Women's Equal Pay Rights
In 2019, the U.S. national women's soccer team filed a federal gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer, alleging that they were paid less than their male counterparts. The case went to court in May 2020, and even though the judge handling the case dismissed most of the claims brought, the team announced in February 2022 that it had reached a settlement with U.S. Soccer in which the players will receive $24 million in back pay and damages. According to a lawsuit filed, the athletes on the U.S. women's national soccer team were being paid less than the men's team—in some cases earning just 38 percent of the pay men were receiving per game.
This lawsuit was filed on the heels of another significant equal pay victory in New Jersey, with our State adopting one of the most far-reaching equal pay laws in the United States.
New Jersey Equal Pay Act: How You Are Protected
In July of 2019, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law the New Jersey's Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act ("NJEPA"), which strengthens equal pay protections for employees in the state. This law prohibits employers from paying employees of different genders differently for "substantially similar work" unless the employer can prove that the pay difference is based on a legitimate factor such as experience or education. The law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who discuss their wages with each other. New Jersey's new law is significantly stronger than the federal Equal Pay Act, with provisions in New Jersey's law that allow women to receive "treble damages" going back six years from the date a lawsuit is filed.
Moreover, the NJEPA provides these rights not just to women, but to a broad range of "protected classes" of employees who endure pay discrimination because of "race, creed, color, national origin, nationality, ancestry, age, marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, affectional or sexual orientation, genetic information, pregnancy, sex, gender identity or expression, disability or atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait of any individual, or liability for service in the armed forces."
Have You Been Paid Unfairly?
If you believe that you are not being paid fairly, you can do a few things.
- You can bring the discrepancy up to your employer and try to resolve the issue internally.
- If you are not comfortable doing this or your employer does not take action, you can file a complaint with the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights.
- You can also consult with an experienced employment discrimination attorney to discuss your legal options and the best course of action.
How Schall & Barasch, LLC Can Help You.
Equal pay for equal work is a right belonging to all employees. If you have questions about equal pay or think that you may have been the victim of wage discrimination, the New Jersey employment lawyers at Schall & Barasch, LLC are here to help. We have extensive experience handling equal pay claims and can help you navigate the legal process.
To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us today through our website or give us a call at (856) 242-8491!