The proposed $24 million settlement between U.S. women soccer players and the sport’s American governing body was given preliminary approval Thursday by a federal judge, who scheduled a Dec. 5 hearing for final approval.
U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner granted the motion for approval filed by the players.
“Most significantly, the unopposed settlement agreement accomplishes the plaintiffs' goal for litigation: equal pay," he wrote. “The court is satisified that the settlement is a fair and reasonable resolution."
Players, including Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Alex Morgan, filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in April 2016. The players sued three years later, seeking damages under the federal Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
The sides settled the working conditions portion in December 2020, dealing with issues such as charter flights, accommodations and playing surfaces.
They agreed in February to settle the remainder for $22 million to be split into individual amounts proposed by the players. In addition, the settlement calls for the U.S. Soccer Federation to establish a fund with $2 million to benefit the players in their post-soccer careers and charitable efforts aimed at growing the sport for women.
Klausner wrote the parties agreed that settlement funds will be distributed to players based on playing time and their lawyers anticipated requesting “no more than approximately 30% of the common fund.”
The settlement was contingent on the USSF reaching collective bargaining agreements to pay its men’s and women’s teams equally. The federation in May announced separate labor contracts through December 2028 with the unions for both national teams.
Klausner told the USSF to send the players' lawyers a list of eligible players within 14 days and then gave the players' lawyers 21 days after that to notify eligible players of the settlement.
Klausner set a Dec. 1 deadline for the filing of motions for attorneys' fees and for final approval.