This browser is not actively supported anymore. For the best passle experience, we strongly recommend you upgrade your browser.

| 3 minutes read

Major Victories for Female Athletes Off the Field

Major settlements in several lawsuits concerning fair and equal pay for women in the world of sports were recently announced. The United States Women’s National Soccer Team and the Buffalo Jills both received settlement victories in their respective suits.

The United States Women’s National Team members (“USWNT”) won their battle for equal pay resulting in a settlement with the U.S. Soccer Federation. The terms of the settlement include a payment of $22 million to the players involved in the case and $2 million into an account to provide support to the players in their “post-career goals and charitable efforts related to women’s and girls’ soccer.”[1] The U.S. Soccer Federation has also promised equal pay between the men’s and women’s national teams in all their tournaments, including the World Cup.[2] The settlement is contingent on the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement [3]

In 2016 Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, Hope Solo, and Carli Lloyd filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The complaint alleged the USWNT members earn four times less than their male counterparts. Subsequently in 2019, 28 members of the women’s national team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit alleging “institutionalized gender discrimination.” [4]

In response to the news of the settlement, Rapinoe discussed its importance for future generations of female athletes, stating “[f]or us, this is just a huge win in ensuring that we not only right the wrongs of the past, but set the next generation up for something we only dreamed of.”[5] The lawsuit and settlement sets an important precedent and hopeful example for other sports leagues to follow concerning equal pay for female athletes.

Another suit involves the issue of New York State labor laws and the employment classification of the Buffalo Bills cheerleading squad. In 2014, the Buffalo Jills filed a lawsuit against the Buffalo Bills organization and Cumulus Radio, the company who managed the Buffalo Jills at the time. The lawsuit centered around whether the Buffalo Jills were properly classified as independent contractors or as employees under New York State labor laws. The members of the Buffalo Jills alleged they were classified as independent contractors when they should have been classified as employees. They sought back pay owed to them as a result of this misclassification. Ultimately, after 8 years the lawsuit settled and the plaintiffs will receive $4 million in stock options from Cumulus and $3.5 million from the Buffalo Bills.[6]

[1] Morgan Smith, USWNT and U.S. Soccer Federation reach $24 million settlement in equal pay lawsuit: 'Getting to this day has not been easy' CNBC, (Feb. 22, 2022),,tournaments%2C%20including%20the%20World%20Cup.


[2] Rachel Treisman, The U.S. national women's soccer team wins $24 million in equal pay settlement, NPR, (Feb. 22, 2022),


[3] Marlene Lenthang, U.S. Soccer and women soccer stars settle equal pay lawsuit for $24 million, NBC News, (Feb. 22, 2022),


[4] David K. Li and Jay Varela, U.S. women's soccer team files gender discrimination suit against its own federation, NBC News, (Mar. 8, 2019),


[5] Marlene Lenthang, U.S. Soccer and women soccer stars settle equal pay lawsuit for $24 million, NBC News, (Feb. 22, 2022),


[6] Buffalo Jills reach settlement with Bills, Cumulus Media, Spectrum News, (Mar. 4, 2022),