U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team- Gender Wage Discrimination
Since, 1963, when it comes to compensating men and women in the U.S., the law of the land has been “equal pay for equal work”. If only it were that simple.
On March 8, 2019, all 28 players on the women’s national soccer team initiated a proposed class and collective action in federal court against the U.S. Soccer Federation. Interestingly, the players chose to file suit on International Women’s Day, which is intended to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, as well as to raise awareness of gender equality issues.
The players are alleging discrimination based on sex in violation of the Equal Pay Act (EPA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended. These female athletes are being paid less than the men’s team, in some cases earning just 38 percent of pay per game even though the women’s team has generated more profits and revenue than the men’s soccer team, in addition to having won three World Cup titles and four Olympic gold medals. The complaint goes on to state that the female players spend more time practicing for and playing in matches, training in camps, traveling, and participating in media sessions than similarly situated male players – all while earning less pay.
The complaint cites the following, “A comparison of the WNT and MNT pay shows that if each team played 20 friendlies in a year and each team won all twenty friendlies, female WNT players would earn a maximum of $99,000 or $4,950 per game, while similarly situated male MNT players would earn an average of $263,320 or $13,166 per game against the various levels of competition they would face.” The direct comparisons of compensation between the men and women can be tricky though as each team has its own collective bargaining agreement with the U.S. Soccer, which among the major differences is pay structure. The men receive higher bonuses when they play for the U.S., but are paid only when they make the team, while the women receive guaranteed salaries supplemented by smaller match bonuses.”
Federal law prohibits discriminatory employment practices based on sex. Under the EPA, men and women in the same workplace must be given equal pay for equal work and Title VII also makes it unlawful to discriminate based on sex regarding pay and benefits.
As stated by Megan Rapinoe, midfielder/winger who plays for the National Women’s Soccer League, “We very much believe it is our responsibility, not only for our team and for future U.S. players, but for players around the world – and frankly women all around the world – to feel like they have an ally in standing up for themselves, and fighting for what they believe in, and fighting for what they deserve and for what they feel like they have earned.”
It’s Valentine’s day and I thought it would be an appropriate time to discuss workplace romances. They happen often. Workplace romance can cause significant legal trouble. Co-worker relationships can create awkwardness among other team members. Relationships involving supervisors and subordinates often set up power differentials that can spark harassment and retaliation claims if the romance ends badly. Banning workplace relationships seldom work. The best course is to manage it. Stay informed of company policy and what those policies could mean to you.
A study in 2017 conducted by Vault.com suggested that 59 percent of respondents have engaged in some form of office romance. A similar study by CareerBuilder.com indicated that 72 percent of workers who have office relationships do not try to hide them—as compared with 46 percent five years earlier. Interestingly, millennials have a much more open mind about workplace romances. According to a study by SHRM, more than half of workplace romances are between employees in different departments, and nearly one-third are between workers of the same rank. Fewer than ten percent happen between a supervisor and direct subordinate or between employees of significantly different rank (though few in number, these types of office romances come with the greatest risk of legal liability.)
Even if workplace relationships are inevitable, they shouldn't take place between boss and subordinate, among coworkers who work directly together, or between an employee and a vendor. The potential for conflicts of interest in these relationships is just too great. Employees who embark on a relationship together should be aware of issues that may arise, including favoritism,discrimination and the chance of a hostile work environment.Instead of “anti-fraternization” or “no-dating” policies, policies that prohibit sexual harassment and discrimination – and encourage employees to come forward with complaints – are encouraged. This way, if an office romance does lead to harassment, the employer will have notice of the problem and be able to take action.
Have a Happy Valentine’s Day!
OVERTIME EXEMPTION RULE
Many American employees receive overtime pay from their employers. In 2019, an anticipated announcement from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) regarding changes to the overtime exemption rules is expected. A new federal overtime regulation is on the horizon that could make millions more Americans eligible for overtime – which might mean a steep hike in costs for employers.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime rule determines whether employees are eligible or exempt for overtime pay. Exempt employees, because of their rate of pay and type of work that they do, are not eligible for overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Nonexempt employees must be paid time and a half for any hours worked more than 40 in a workweek.
The DOL issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to reevaluate the salary level for employees who are counted as “exempt” or unable to earn overtime pay. The rule would also define the process for calculating that salary level going forward. Meeting the March deadline would cap what has so far been a drawn-out process.
Labor Secretary Alex Acosta announced years back that the DOL planned to update the overtime rule, and the department began gathering public input in July 2017. Secretary Acosta has said he recognizes that the salary threshold needs to be increased—just not to the level under the 2016 rule.
The DOL has not yet declared its position on the overtime exemption issues. Experts say they expect the DOL to increase the minimum salary amount for exemption from overtime by a more modest amount than the prior Obama-era proposed rule. (The Obama administration's 2016 rule that more than doubled—from $23,660 to $47,476—the minimum annual salary required to qualify for the Fair Labor Standards Act's "white collar" exemption.) Possible rules revisions include raising the salary threshold above its current $23,660 per year. Anyone who makes less than that is eligible for overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a workweek.
The DOL will plan to reveal its position on the overtime exemption issue in March of 2019.