A federal judge ruled on Friday that the U.S. women’s soccer team cannot strike ahead of this summer’s Olympics.
The strike issue has to do with a complaint filed by five of the female athletes in March with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing the U.S. Soccer Federation of wage discrimination. The U.S. Women’s National Team made $2 million for winning the World Cup last year, while the Men’s National Team made $9 million for losing the year before. Fortune reported that the federation refuted the allegations, saying that pay differences “are driven by factors other than gender.”
According to the Associated Press, Friday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman was based on a no-strike clause in a collective bargaining agreement between the federation and the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Players Association that expired in 2012. The two parties signed a memorandum of understanding in 2013 that modified the previous deal with terms lasting through 2016.
The players’ union argued that a no-strike provision wasn’t secured in writing, so the federation shouldn’t now be able to argue that it was implied in the memorandum. The federation’s lawyer, Russell Sauer Jr., argued that it was implied. Coleman ruled in favor of the federation.
“To be clear, the court’s ruling today does not negate the fact that U.S. Soccer does not fairly compensate the women’s national team, or in any way impact the players’ demands for equal pay for equal work,” union executive director Richard Nichols told the AP. This ruling ensures that the Women’s National Team will participate in this year’s Olympics games. The women will be competing in Brazil for their fourth straight gold medal.
The federation and the union have been working to reach a new labor contract. If they don’t agree on one by the end of the year, the players will have a clear right to give notice of a strike.