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U.S. women’s soccer team is dealt a blow in its legal battle. Is it a setback for all equal pay?

May 4, 2020, 12:09 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Rep. Pramila Jayapal goes up against Amazon, Joe Biden publicly addresses the sexual assault allegation against him, and equal pay hits a roadblock. 

– Down but not out.  The U.S. Women’s National Team’s fight for equal pay suffered a devastating blow on Friday. 

A judge ruled that the soccer players’ case did not have enough evidence to proceed to trial—that because the women’s players earned more money than the men did during the period in question, they could not prove unequal pay. (During that time frame, the women won the World Cup and the men fell far short of that goal; if the men had achieved the same level of success as the women, the men would have earned significantly more). 

The UWSNT say they plan to appeal the decision, which does allow some claims, including unequal work and travel conditions, to continue on. It also left room for a negotiated settlement that would provide the women’s players with some financial recompense, and U.S. Soccer with the opportunity for some image rehab. 

But the judge’s decision reverberates beyond the legal battle. The setback arrives while professional athletics are on hold across the globe—a shutdown that threatens the gains women’s sports have made in the past few years. Going into their equal pay case, the women’s players had unprecedented leverage: athletic success, extreme popularity, and global celebrity. Now, with the wind knocked out of their highest-profile off-field cause, will women’s soccer be able to pick up where it left off when sports resume? 

And what of equal pay beyond sports? The U.S. Women’s National Team players were among the most persuasive advocates for the cause. Will the movement for equal pay—already on hold for some companies as they turn their attention to the economic crisis—stall without its star power?

Megan Rapinoe said after the judge’s decision Friday that the team would “never stop fighting for equality.” Let’s hope so—for these athletes and the rest of us.   

Plus: are you working from home with an infant under 1? I’d love to talk to you for a story. Drop me a note at emma.hinchliffe@fortune.com. 

Emma Hinchliffe
emma.hinchliffe@fortune.com
@_emmahinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Biden report. On Morning Joe on Friday, Joe Biden for the first time publicly commented on and personally denied the sexual assault allegation brought forward by former Senate staffer Tara Reade. This piece examines how the burden of this allegation has landed on women, from the female journalists whose male colleagues are sitting out the story, to the female politicians in contention for Biden's ticket, to the women's rights groups aligned with the Democratic Party who have been slow to speak up about the allegation as they waited for Biden himself to respond. New York Times

- Next chapter. J.Crew this morning filed for Chapter 11 protection, as the coronavirus pandemic crushes already floundering sales. The bankruptcy comes three months after the clothing retailer named Jan Singer, formerly of Victoria's Secret, its new CEO. In a statement, Singer described the filing as a "critical milestone" in the chain's "ongoing" transformation. 

- Who CARES? Rep. Rosa DeLauro argues in Fortune that the CARES Act provides a $135 billion "tax giveaway" for real estate developers and hedge fund managers, who can write off real estate losses to minimize taxes on other assets and income, like profit from the stock market. DeLauro co-sponsors legislation to repeal the provision. Fortune 

- Battle in her own backyard. Rep. Pramila Jayapal was worried about Amazon's market dominance and treatment of its workers. But she wanted to address those concerns privately with the company—considering that many of her constituents in Seattle work for the tech giant. Now Jayapal says those conversations have not been productive, and she is going public with her concerns. New York Times

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Ford appointed Alexandra Ford English, its director of corporate strategy and daughter of its executive chairman, to the company's board seat at the electric car startup Rivian. Alamo Drafthouse hired Shelli Taylor, former Planet Fitness COO, as CEO. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- FGM no more. In a move long pushed for by women's rights campaigners, Sudan's government outlawed female genital mutilation. Anyone who performs the damaging practice, which 9 of 10 Sudanese women have been subjected to, will face the possibility of a three-year prison sentence. New York Times 

- Single mom vote. Rep. Katie Porter is the only single mother in Congress. And how is she working during quarantine? "I can’t tell you how many times I’m on video calls ... where I’m right in the middle of saying something and my daughter’s tapping me saying ‘I’m hungry’ and she wants peanut butter and jelly," the California congresswoman says. Spectrum News 1

- Held back. During coronavirus isolation, with kids at home full-time, women in academia are submitting fewer papers than usual. Male academics, meanwhile, are submitting work more than ever—as much as 50% more than the norm, according to one journal. The Lily

ON MY RADAR

With author Brit Bennett’s second novel, a literary star is born WSJ. Magazine

How hair salons will be transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic Vogue

Meghan Markle loses first round in newspaper lawsuit Time

PARTING WORDS

"You have to try, right? Even if it doesn’t work."

-Riverdale actress Marisol Nichols, who works with law enforcement to catch child sexual predators