US Soccer Makes Landmark Deal to Pay Men’s and Women’s National Teams Equally

US Soccer Makes Landmark Deal to Pay Men’s and Women’s National Teams Equally

After a group of top women’s players sued U.S. Soccer for gender discrimination in 2019, US Soccer has announced that they will have new contracts that will pay both women’s and men’s teams equally. This landmark decision will also include splitting World Cup prize money. 

These collective bargaining agreements were made after a decades-long fight by the U.S Women’s National Team (USWNT) for equal pay and fair treatment. 

The women’s national team has been recognized as U.S. Soccer’s most successful team, winning 4 Olympic gold medals and more World Cups than any other country. Contentions over the gender pay gap grew after the women’s consecutive World Cup championships in 2015 and 2019, while the men’s team failed to qualify for the 2018 tournament. 

In 2019, top women’s players sued U.S. Soccer for inequalities in treatment and pay, and won the lawsuit. U.S. Soccer agreed to pay $24 million to settle once a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was made.

As part of the latest bargaining deal, the USWNT will get $7.2 million in this year’s pool and includes a 68 percent increase to $120,000 for what players can earn in this summer’s World Cup qualifying tournament. These agreements run through 2028 and covers two World Cup cycles. 

Unlike the vast disparities in past distributions of FIFA’s prize money, under the new deals, U.S. Soccer will put 90 percent of the prize money from both the men’s and women’s World Cups into a pool for players to split. This is a groundbreaking move for U.S. Soccer as no other federation has gone as far as splitting World Cup prize money. 

Also included under the deals:

1/ U.S. Soccer will share commercial revenues with the players; 

2/ Both Men’s and Women’s games will be played on similar surfaces (grass or turf);

3/ Travel budgets will be comparable and both teams will have equal number of charter flights;

4/ U.S. Soccer agreed to establish protections to prevent harassment and other misconduct such as ability to anonymously report abuse.  More than a half-dozen players accused U.S. Soccer of willful inaction following abuse by coaches;

5/ Expanding parental benefits like childcare to not only USWNT but also for USMNT.

Now that new collective bargaining agreements have been made, the 2019 settlement can be finalized. With the decades long fight now settled, all that is left for the USWNT is to focus on the World Cup!

In many places, including under California law, paying less to one gender for the same work is illegal.  The movement towards gender pay equity is here to stay.  But, for the most part, men and women’s professional sports have not been considered equal.  Think NBA vs. WNBA.  Do you think this precedent will change pay practices in other women’s professional sports?

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LinkedIn Paying $1.8 million in Gender Pay Discrimination Case

LinkedIn to pay $1.8 Million in Pay Discrimination Settlement

As part of a settlement in a gender-based pay discrimination case, LinkedIn is set to pay $1.8 million in back wages to approximately 700 female employees.

The U.S. Labor Department investigators had made a pay discrimination complaint against LinkedIn, the career-networking platform, after a routine compliance evaluation found that from March 2015 to March 2017, LinkedIn failed to comply with equal pay law. The employer had been underpaying about 700 female workers in its San Francisco and Sunnyvale, California offices. The affected women were being paid less than men in comparable job roles in its Engineering, Product, and Marketing Departments.

Though LinkedIn has agreed to settle, the company denies the government’s claims of pay discrimination and insists that their models didn’t identify pay disparities, stating that LinkedIn has paid employees fairly and equitably. LinkedIn officials quote a pay study conducted in 2021 that found female employees earning $.99 for every $1 earned by a male employee, and that in the U.S., employees of color earned the same as White employees.

However, the Labor Department’s analysis found significant pay disparities. Federal laws ban any discriminatory pay practices especially in companies like LinkedIn that contracts with the government. As part of the settlement, LinkedIn is expected to pay $1.8 million in back pay and interest to resolve the violations.

The breakdown will be as follows:
• Sunnyvale Engineering: $719,592 in back pay plus $13,120 in interest
• Sunnyvale Product: $370,974.00 in back pay plus $13,120.00 in interest.
• San Francisco Engineering: $232,448.00 in back pay plus $13,120.00 in interest.
• San Francisco Marketing: $424,506.00 in back pay and $13,120.00 in interest.

LinkedIn also agreed to host a staff-training program to ensure compliance with non-discrimination policy and will evaluate that staff salaries are gender neutral for the next 3 years and make salary adjustments accordingly. LinkedIn will also revise its compensation policies and allow reporting to guarantee compliance with federal contract obligations. The Labor Department hopes these changes ensure LinkedIn understands its obligations as a federal contractor.

In addition to these federal laws, California has strict gender pay equity laws that requires women be paid the same as men for equal work.

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University of Texas Professor Wins $3M Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

Professor Pregnancy Discrimination News

University of Texas at Austin engineering professor, Evdokia Nikolova, has been awarded $3 million by a jury for being discriminated against based on sex and pregnancy when she applied for tenure. 

Nikolova had worked for nearly five years at UT-Austin and two years at Texas A&M University, when she applied for tenure for the 2018-2019 academic year. Despite being unanimously approved for tenure by the School of Engineering, UT-Austin dean of engineering school Sharon Wood denied her tenure stating that Nikolova did not have the seven requisite years of teaching, which professors typically have when requesting tenure.

Wood argued that Nikolova was making the request too early because she had taken a “probationary extension” and ”modified instructional duty” for pregnancy and childbirth during 2015-2016 and therefore had not yet met the seven years.

Under various state laws like California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, employees cannot be punished for taking pregnancy or medical/disability leave.  

Nikolova filed the lawsuit against UT-Austin in 2019. The lawsuit showed how there continues to be discrimination against women and mothers in the workplace. Evidence showed that since Nikolova’s first university interview, nine male professors had received tenure while both women who applied for tenure during the same period were denied. The lawsuit also highlighted the importance of pointing out discrimination in influential institutions like UT-Austin, as it deters other institutions from thinking that discrimination can go unchecked.

The University denied any unfair treatment of Nikolova, but stated it will look to improve processes and implement steps to comply with the verdict.

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Man Awarded $450K After Workplace Birthday Party Panic Attack Leads to Termination

Disability Discrimination News

Kevin Berling was awarded $300,000 for emotional distress and $150,000 in lost wages for a disability discrimination case in late March after a two day trial in Kenton County, Kentucky.

Berling sued his employer, Gravity Diagnostics after the company threw him a birthday party against his request that the company not celebrate his birthday because it would cause him immense stress.

Berling suffers from anxiety disorders and panic attacks. He worked at Gravity Diagnostics for approximately 10 months, when he requested that the company not celebrate his birthday as it normally does for its employees. Berling told his supervisor that a birthday celebration would be a stressful trigger of bad childhood memories surrounding his parents’ divorce. The lawsuit outlines that the office manager ends up forgetting his request and the party is still held for Berling. As a result, Berling suffers a panic attack and leaves.

The next day, Berling is called into a meeting with his bosses where he suffers another panic attack when his supervisor chastised him for “stealing his co-workers” joy and for “being a little girl.” The company then fires Berling saying that they were worried about him being angry and violent. 

As part of the lawsuit, Berling claimed the company discriminated against him based on his disability, and retaliated against him for requesting a reasonable accommodation for his disability. The jury returned the verdict after two days in trial and awarded Berling a $450,000 win. 

The company continues to deny liability and is pursuing port-trial options. The company’s founder and COO, Julie Brazil, stated that the verdict sets a dangerous precedent in which workplace violence will be tolerated unless physical violence occurs, and stated that her employees were the victims, not Berling. The jury didn’t seem to agree with Brazil once they got to meet Berling at trial and saw that the company’s claim that he posed a threat was more of an exaggeration.

Employers must accommodate their employee’s disabilities and cannot terminate someone based on a protected category such as a disability or medical condition.  Further, the law prohibits harassment of an employee based on medical condition or disability. 

If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, retaliated or discriminated against based on a protected category such as a physical or mental disability, or medical condition, give us a call at 310-400-5891 for your free intake.

Learn more about Disability Harassment / Disability Discrimination Law

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National Origin & Race Discrimination – Case Example

A recently handled national origin and racial discrimination case

Lisa is a young woman of Chinese descent. Lisa was subjected to harassment and discrimination at work based on her national origin and race.

Lisa’s boss would make racist comments such as “fucking Chinese people”, constantly saying that there are too many Chinese employees and saying that they needed to stop hiring Chinese people. Lisa’s employer additionally instructed Lisa not to hire certain types of people, such as “blacks.” Lisa protested and complained about the racist comments to her employer.

Instead of trying to cure the discrimination and harassment as required by law, Lisa’s employer retaliated against her and terminated her employment because she protested her boss’ discrimination and harassment.

California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits an employer, including any supervisor, from harassing or discriminating an employee based on national origin or race. We helped Lisa get justice for the racial harassment and retaliation she endured. We were able to get her a favorable settlement.

If you have been harasseddiscriminated, or retaliated against based on a protected category such as race or national origin, give us a call at 310-400-5891 for your free intake.

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President Biden Signs Executive Order to Narrow the Gender Pay Gap for Federal Workers

President Biden Signs Executive Order to Narrow Gender Pay Gap

On Equal Pay Day, March 15, 2022, President Joe Biden signed an executive order aiming at tackling the gender pay gap for federal workers. The executive order encourages the government to consider banning federal contractors from seeking information about job applicants’ prior salary history. 

President Biden encouraged private companies to follow suit and make efforts to narrow the gender pay gap because gender equality is not just a women’s issue but also affects the entire nation’s economy and competitiveness.

In related efforts, the labor department issued a directive to strengthen obligations for audits of payrolls to counteract pay disparities based on gender, race, or ethnicity. The Office of Personnel Managed was also directed to consider a regulation to address the use of prior salary history in setting compensation for federal workers.

This Equal Pay Day drew attention to the pandemic’s affect on women’s labor force participation. There was about 1.1 million fewer women in the labor force this year than in 2020, with low-paid workers hit the hardest, leaving middle- and higher-paid workers insulated from the pandemic. Vice President Kamala Harris aired that the pandemic has only deepened inequities especially as caregiving has become more expensive and inaccessible. And emphasized how African-American women, Latina women, and Native-American women lose hundreds of thousands of dollars over a 40-year career span.

As a result, President Biden has focused on combatting occupational segregation to give better access to women into, primarily male-dominated, well-paying jobs. In October 2021, The Biden administration issued a national gender strategy to advance women and girls’ full participation in society. 

In the end, Equal Pay Day highlighted the continuing wage-gap with the White House reporting that in 2020, the average woman earned 83 cents on the dollar compared with a male colleague doing the same work and that this gap is even bigger for African-American and Native American women and Latinas. Further, social security benefits for women are 80% of those for men.

California has already banned asking applicants about their prior salary history.  California has also passed strong gender pay equity laws.  We handle many such cases.  

What do you think is the right approach to gender pay equity?

Learn More About Gender Discrimination / Wage and Hour Law

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Kevin Spacey, Dustin Hoffman, and Others Accused of Sexual Harassment

Well, it’s been a whirlwind since we first shared the Hervey Weinstein allegations. In just one month there has been an outpour of accusations against powerful men in Hollywood. Below are some of the new allegations, though by the time we publish the article there will probably be much more to add to this ever-growing list. What an unfortunate time to be a sexual harasser. 

1/ Kevin Spacey has been accused of sexually harassing and assaulting several men over the years including at least 8 House of Cards employees. The first accusation came forth from Anthony Rapp, who was only 14 at the time. Rapp claims that Spacey came on to him while they were both attending a house party. Spacey picked Rapp up “like a groom picks up a bride” and put him on the bed while pressing his weight onto Rapp. Filmmaker Tony Montana claims that in 2003, Spacey forcefully grabbed Montana’s genitalia in a bar and told him to leave the bar with him. Montana turned him down only to have Spacey follow him to the bathroom. Actor Robert Cavazos says that Spacey had a particular fondness for men under the age of 30 and that he felt entitled to touching them without their consent. Though Spacey published an apology for his inappropriate behavior towards Rapp, he claims that he has no recollection of the behavior. In his statement, he also came out as a gay man. Then news came out that there were many others claiming harassment and assault from Spacey, including at least 8 House of Cards employees.  According to People magazine, Spacey is currently seeking treatment at a facility.  It is rumored that Spacey will no longer appear on the last season of House of Cards and future show production (beyond the upcoming season) has already been permanently cancelled.  

2/ Dustin Hoffman was accused of sexually harassing a 17-year-old intern on the set of Death of a Salesman in 1985. The former intern, Anna Graham Hunter, alleges that Hoffman grabbed her butt and made inappropriate comments about her breasts and sex while they were on set. Hoffman recently released a statement saying that he has the “utmost respect for women.” He went on to apologize for putting Hunter in an uncomfortable situation and swears that his past behavior is not reflective of who he is. 

3/ Brett Ratner, director and producer of movies like the Rush Hour franchise and X-Men: The Last Stand, has been accused of sexual harassment/assault by actresses. Actress Natasha Henstridge claims that in the early 90s, Ratner forced her to perform oral sex on him. Actress Olivia Munn recalls a time where Ratner came out of his dressing room bathroom and “furiously masturbating.” 

How do you think Hollywood is handling all the sexual harassment allegations coming out?

*image by Paul Hudson

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How to Properly Report Sexual Harassment and Discrimination at Work: HR is Not Your Friend

Wondering what to do if you have been sexually harassed or assaulted by someone at work?  If your first thought was to make a report to HR, you may want to listen up. The truth of the matter is that the HR department has been put in place to serve the needs of the company first and foremost. This is why so many sexual harassment cases get swept under the rug. Uber engineer Susan Fowler’s bold actions eventually led to the resignation of Uber founder Travis Kalanick, but only after she pushed her claims out to the public via her blog. 

Bottom line: The HR department is there to protect the company and keep legal damage to the company at a minimum. 

Before you head to HR, ask yourself this question. Who signs their paychecks?

In industries such as entertainment and tech, there is an increasing competition amongst workers. This can sometimes lead to “godlike” worship of high performers, meaning they can basically get away with anything, including sexual harassment. 

According to a 2016 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission study, 75% of women don’t report sexual harassment due to fear of retaliation or dismissiveness. According to the same study, 95% of women who reported being sexually harassed to HR, claim that their harassers suffered no consequences. 

If you have experienced unwarranted sexual advances, harassment, or assault at work, it’s best to get guidance and support from an employment lawyer first, before you take your claims to HR. This way you can be guided to prevent HR from covering up your complaints or retaliating against you. Most importantly, always submit your complaints in writing and keep a copy.  As an experienced employment lawyer, I can’t tell you how many times HR covers up or misstates what verbal complaints were made to it.  

What do you think are the best ways to report harassment or discrimination at work?

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

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EEOC Sues Chipotle Over Rampant Female on Male Sexual Harassment (Including Sex Scorecard)

The EEOC is suing a Chipotle Mexican Grill in San Jose, California on behalf of a male shift manager. The 22-year-old claims that he experienced sexual harassment and retaliation during his employment. Here is what we know about the allegations: 

  1. A female general manager verbally and physically harassed him, including slapping and groping his genitals. 
  2. The female GM kept a daily “sex scoreboard” in the office that revealed details of her staff’s sex lives.  
  3. She told the complainant that she wanted to watch him and his girlfriend have sex. She also told him that she wanted to have a threesome with them. 
  4. The GM frequently discussed inappropriate topics such as her sex life and the sex lives of her staff members.
  5. The complainant reported this behavior to upper management but was later locked in the walk-in freezer and forced to quit. 

Though Chipotle refuses to comment on the specifics of this lawsuit, a spokesperson has come forward saying that the company doesn’t tolerate “discrimination or harassment in any form” and that they will take “appropriate action” whenever reports of harassment come forth in the restaurant. 

How common do you think “female on male” sexual harassment takes place in the workplace?

*image by Mike Mozart

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Class Action Filed Against Google for Gender Pay Discrimination

Three former Google employees have filed a lawsuit against the innovative technology company for alleged gender pay discrimination. Here is what we know about the case: 

  1. The female employees were all employed by Google of California during the past four years.
  2. They are seeking a class-action status (the first of its kind against Google).
  3. With the suit, the employees hope to ensure fairness for current and future women employed by the company.
  4. The women claim that Google pays women less due to “systemic discrimination.”
  5. Plaintiff Kelly Ellis had previous experience as a software engineer prior to being hired by Google, she was assigned a Level 3 on Google’s software engineering team (a level usually assigned to new college graduates). A few weeks later, Google hired a male software engineer (with the same level of expertise) and assigned him to a (higher paying) Level 4.
  6. Despite that fact that she received stellar performance reviews, Google denied her a level promotion in the beginning. She eventually received the promotion, but by that time, her male cohorts were already way ahead of her career and pay-wise, thus furthering the gender pay gap. 
  7. Another plaintiff in the case, Kelli Wisuri, says she was paid less for doing the same work as her male cohorts. 
  8. In the suit, there is a US Department of Labor analysis of 21,000 Google employees during 2015. In the analysis, there is a clear disparity in compensation amongst female and male employees. In Google’s internal analysis, however, there was no disparity.

Back in April (on “Equal Pay Day”) Google made the bold claim that it had “closed the gender pay gap globally.” According to the three plaintiffs, however, this announcement seems more like a PR stunt than the actual truth.

A  female spokesperson for Google assures that the accusations are without merit. She claims that job levels and promotions are “determined through rigorous hiring and promotion committees, and must pass multiples level of review.” She also ensures that Google has many systems in place that makes sure employees are paid fairly. 

Taking into account all the recent discrimination cases surfacing from the tech industry, what do you think? 

*image credit

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Shirazi Law Firm, PC

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