How is it already the end of July? It cannot have been a whole month since our last employment law update can it? If you missed it, we had features on sexual harassment, Employment Tribunal statistics and dietary whistleblowing. Well, rather than worrying that summer is rapidly running away from us (one rainy day at a time) why not see out your week with this month’s update.
For those of you who missed last week’s case law update, it concerned harassment and social media
Some of our most popular newsletter features are those based on current issues and ones which are based on sport, especially football. Well this month we are able to kill two birds with one stone – or make two incorrect decisions in one VAR referral – by discussing equal pay and the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT).
July saw the USWNT defeat Sweden to become World Cup champions, with England losing in the semi-final. Again! Unlike the US Men’s Soccer Team, who have never won the World Cup, the USWNT have now won four of the eight women’s tournaments and have, at worst, reached the semi-finals in the remaining four tournaments they didn’t win. In short, they are sporting behemoths.
One reason given for the lack of success in the men’s game is that it faces competition from basketball, baseball, American football and hockey whilst the US were also relatively late to adopting football as a national men’s sport. However, the women’s game has less competitors, and, the United States were also one of the pioneers of the women’s game.
However, this summer, the US Men’s Team got to the final of the Gold Cup (European Championships of North & Central America). The final took place on the same day as the women’s World Cup Final. Viewing figures suggest that 14 million Americans elected to watch the women become world champions whilst 8.8 million watched the men’s final.
By way of comparison, 11.7 million Britons watched the England women’s team 2019 semi-final against 26.5 million who watched the men’s team lose the same game in 2018. 11.4 million Americans watched the 2018 men’s World Cup final between France and Croatia.
In terms of viewing figures, the women’s game is more popular. However, the pay structure adopted by US Soccer means that women receive less pay than their male comparators. This is despite achieving more and attracting more viewers.
Regular readers of our equal pay features, particularly those who have followed the supermarket shelf stackers, will know that in the UK the basic principle is that equal work should result in equal pay. Given both roles are to play football it is understandable why many USWNT players, including Golden Boot winner and Donald Trump critic, Megan Rapinoe, are pushing for the women to be paid the same as their male counterparts.
As things stand the current discrepancy between male and female players can be seen from this table for average earnings of male and female US players (this table is comprised of figures reportedly from the respective collective agreements for the men’s and women’s teams):
The above table shows that not only are the men’s team paid almost three times more than the women’s team when factoring in the maximum bonus earnings, but also that there is a much lower threshold set to the men’s team to achieve certain bonus targets. Men are paid per game and per point upon World Cup qualification whereas women do not earn anything after qualification until they have won the tournament.
The USWNT are currently suing the United States Soccer and the case is expected to settle in the latest round of mediation. Given the USWNT won the World Cup you would assume they enter that mediation with a very strong bargaining position. We will keep you updated as this case progresses.