06.01.16

Leahy Joins Democratic Senators In Calling On U.S. Soccer Federation To Provide Equal Pay For Women Athletes

. . . Ahead Of Saturday’s 20th Annual Vermont Women’s Economic Opportunity Conference, Leahy Underscores Need For All Women To Be Paid Fairly

WASHINGTON (WEDNESDAY, June 1, 2016) – Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy (D) Wednesday joined with leading Democratic senators in calling for equal treatment including equal pay for women athletes.

In a letter to Sunil Gulati, president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, Leahy and 30 Democratic Senators note that the U.S. Women’s National Team “has been a source of tremendous national pride,” inspiring young and experienced athletes alike.  Yet according to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint filed by some of the female players, “a 20-game winning top tier [Women’s National Team] player would earn 38% of the compensation of a similarly situated [Men’s National Team] player.”

“The complaint filed by the U.S. Women’s National Team is appalling but unfortunately similar to the pay disparity women experience across the country,” the senators wrote. “Given that members of the men and women’s teams perform the same job duties, have jobs that require equal skill, effort, and responsibilities, and perform their jobs under similar working conditions, we are deeply concerned about the reported discrepancies in pay.”

Leahy last year introduced a Senate resolution calling on the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to immediately eliminate gender pay inequity between male and female athletes.  He introduced the resolution after the 2015 Women’s World Cup winner—the United States—was awarded just $2 million compared to $35 million for German, the 2014 Men’s World Cup Winner. The Senate recently passed a resolution authored by Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and cosponsored by Leahy that also calls for the U.S. Soccer Federation to provide equal pay for women soccer players.  

Leahy has also worked throughout his Senate career to support equal pay for women.  As chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Leahy convened a high profile hearing in 2008 on wage discrimination featuring Lilly Ledbetter, who discovered just weeks before her retirement that her employer had been paying her significantly less than male coworkers performing the same job.  Leahy was an original cosponsor of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, signed into law in 2009, to help protect workers from pay discrimination.  He is a cosponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, legislation that takes additional steps to ensure wage equality in the workplace.

On Saturday Leahy again will host federal and Vermont partners at the 20th annual Women’s Economic Opportunity Conference at Vermont Technical College in Randolph Center.  The conference features more than two dozen practical workshops, and the conference will kick off with a keynote address from U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch.  The conference brings together hundreds of Vermont women looking to explore new careers, forge professional contacts, discover financial resources and get more from social media.

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