The U.S. women’s soccer team asked a California federal judge on Friday to lay the groundwork for an immediate appeal of the judge’s ruling a week earlier tossing the team’s sex-based pay discrimination claims out of court.
Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and more than 20 other women players suing the U.S. Soccer Federation also asked Judge R. Gary Klausner of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to stay the scheduled upcoming trial of the team’s separate working conditions claims until after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit resolves their planned appeal of his pay bias ruling.
Klausner on May 1 rejected the team’s class pay bias claims, which asserted that they’re paid less than the U.S. men’s team players because of their sex. He found undisputed evidence the women were actually paid more per game than the men during the class period. They also negotiated through their union a separate pay scheme with salaries and other fixed compensation that the men didn’t enjoy under the exclusively “pay-for-play” pay scheme the men negotiated with U.S. Soccer through their own union.
But Klausner also said the women could take to trial claims that U.S. Soccer subjected them to inferior travel conditions and medical and training support compared to the men. The trial is currently set to begin June 16.
U.S. Soccer agrees with the women that the trial date should be postponed for a few months in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, regardless of whether the court allows it to immediately appeal the pay bias ruling, the women said in their ex parte application seeking a stay of the trial court proceedings.
The trial date has already been pushed back once—from May 5—due to the virus and California’s and other states’ stay-at-home requirements.
The women argued in a separate filing that judicial economy and other litigation efficiencies—as well as the Covid-19 pandemic—favor Klausner entering final judgment on the dismissed pay discrimination claims so they can appeal that ruling now.
An immediate appeal of the pay claims while the remaining claims are stayed will avoid the need for two trials should the Ninth Circuit overturn Klausner’s dismissal of the pay claims, the women said.
Allowing the women to go straight to the Ninth Circuit will also avoid wasting the time and resources of the parties, including logistical difficulties in travel and other arrangements posed by the pandemic, the team said.
Given the pandemic, denying the women a chance to go the Ninth Circuit before a trial on their remaining claims could cause them to have to wait “an extremely prolonged time” to appeal the “core” pay bias claims in their case, which seek millions of dollars in damages and other relief, the team said.
It could also compromise the ability for the parties to reach a voluntary settlement, the women said
The Ninth Circuit has softened its requirements for entering final judgment on part of a case to permit expedited appeals in circumstances such as those presented by their case, the women said.
Both motions are unopposed by U.S. Soccer.
Winston & Strawn LLP represents the women. Latham & Watkins LLP represents U.S. Soccer.
The case is Morgan v. U.S. Soccer Fed’n, Inc., C.D. Cal., No. 2:19-cv-01717, motion for entry of judgment 5/8/20.