U.S. women’s soccer team hire appeals lawyers in equal pay lawsuit

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USA forward Megan Rapinoe (15) and midfielder Julie Ertz (8) celebrate the second half goal by Alex Morgan against Canada in the finals of the CONCACAF Women's soccer Championship on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018, in Frisco, Texas. Morgan also scored the USA’s final goal of the year in a 1-0 win over Scotland on November 13, 2018 (Richard W. Rodriguez/AP)

LOS ANGELES — Even before a trial, American women players suing the U.S. Soccer Federation for equal pay have hired a pair of appellate lawyers.

Nicole A. Saharsky, co-head of the Mayer Brown’s U.S. Supreme Court and appellate practice, joined the legal team on Thursday along with Brian D. Netter, a partner in the litigation and dispute resolution practice who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Both are based in Washington, D.C.

Players sued in March 2018 under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and they sought more than $66 million in damages.

U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner in Los Angeles 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. A trial is scheduled for Sept. 15.

Klausner last week denied the players’ request to allow an immediate appeal.

Jeffrey L. Kessler of Winston & Strawn is the players’ lead trial lawyer.

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