Being a professional athlete is a physically demanding, somewhat-dangerous, and time-limited career. Extensive travel on-season, and continuously working out to maintain an edge off-season, take a serious toll. The average professional athlete likely earns a respectable living wage. The situation is far different for many star athletes.
In a 2018 publication, Forbes magazine listed the 100 most highly-compensated professional athletes in the world. Highest on the list was boxer Floyd Mayweather, who earned $285 million in salary with an additional $10 million for endorsements. Lowest on the list was basketball player Nicholas Batum who earned $22.5 million in salary and an extra $500,000 in endorsements.
The argument for paying elite athletes exorbitant salaries usually involves something along the lines of rewarding both excellence in performance and the entertainment value offered by it. The entertainment value usually translates into increased revenue for athletes’ employers.
Athlete Salaries Differ Along Gender Lines
Top female athletes do not fare nearly as well as their male counterparts. The number of female athletes who made the Forbes top 100 most highly-compensated list is zero. One group of female athletes has been at work to rectify the imbalance in their sport for years.
The U.S. Soccer Federation is the official governing body of the sport in the United States. The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team both work for the federation. The women’s team is an elite and highly-successful team that has consistently won international competitions. The team is a three-time World Cup winner and has won the Gold Medal for soccer in the Olympics four times.
In 2015, the women’s team won the World Cup. In contrast, the men’s team lost in an early round. The U.S. Soccer Federation divided the winnings between the teams. Players on the losing men’s team were paid three times what players on the winning women’s team were paid. Compensation is complex and negotiated through collective bargaining. Yet, the disparity in wages is striking.
Disparities also exist in working conditions. For example, travel accommodations for the female players are reportedly inferior to that provided for the men. Despite safety concerns, the women’s team has repeatedly been scheduled to play on artificial turf while the men’s team has not.
In 2016, members of the women’s team filed a complaint of gender discrimination against the federation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Part of the complaint stated the female players are required to play more games than the men’s team, win more of them, and still receive less pay. The EEOC failed to make any progress on the case.
International Women’s Day Celebrated in Court
On March 8, 2019, which is International Women’s Day, 28 top female soccer athletes filed suit against the U.S. Soccer Federation to defend their right to equal pay. The complaint alleges “institutionalized gender discrimination” in violation of the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Players assert they feel it is their responsibility to fight for gender equality in sports.
Cherry Hill Gender Discrimination Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Fight for Equal Pay for Equal Work
If you have experienced gender discrimination, violations of federal and state laws against discrimination may have occurred. Contact the experienced employment law attorneys at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C.. Our dedicated Cherry Hill gender discrimination lawyers represent clients who have suffered gender and other forms of discrimination.
Call our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500, our Marlton office at 856-985-9800, our Newark office at 973-878-9040, or contact us at 888-396-0736 or online for a free consultation. We represent clients throughout New Jersey.