Soccer

U.S. women's soccer told to wait until 2021 for jury trial in workplace discrimination case

U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner told the players and the U.S. Soccer Federation on Wednesday that jurors were not available during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Judge says lack of jurors due to pandemic could cause postponement to Jan. 26

In this 2019 file photo, the U.S. Women's National Team celebrates after winning the Women's World Cup. U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner told the players and the U.S. Soccer Federation on Wednesday that jurors were not available during the coronavirus pandemic. (Alessandra Tarantino/The Associated Press, file)

If American women's soccer players want a jury trial on their claim of discriminatory working conditions, they must wait until next year.

U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner told the players and the U.S. Soccer Federation on Wednesday that jurors were not available during the novel coronavirus pandemic. He informed the sides if they wanted to stick with their Sept. 15 trial date, they would have to agree by Aug. 6 to a bench trial in which he would decide the verdict.

If they want a jury trial, he would postpone the start until Jan. 26.

"The players are confident that they will prevail at trial and are considering the options presented by the court for proceeding," players' spokeswoman Molly Levinson said in a statement.

Players sued in March 2019 under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and they sought more than $66 million US in damages.

Klausner ruled May 1 that the women could not prove discrimination over pay and granted in part the USSF's motion for a partial summary judgment. He said the union for the women's national team rejected an offer to be paid under the same pay-to-play structure as the men's national team's collective bargaining agreement and the women accepted guaranteed salaries and greater benefits along with a different bonus structure.

He also refused to let go to trial allegations the women were discriminated against because they played more games on artificial turf.

Klausner left intact claims the USSF discriminated in its use of charter aircraft, and in the money it spent on commercial airfare, hotel accommodations, and medical and training support services.

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