Nike Hit With Lawsuit From Ex-Employees Alleging Discrimination

Irving Hamilton
August 11, 2018

The lawsuit, filed on Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Portland, Oregon, also alleges Nike didn't punish male workers for sexual and verbal harassment.

"Nike opposes discrimination of any type and has a long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion".

In July, after a review of compensation practices, Nike said it would give competitive pay-adjustments to 10%, or about 7,000 staff out of 74,000 employees around the world. "The vast majority of Nike employees live by our values of dignity and respect for others". Hence they scored lower on group projects, and received fewer benefits, all amounting to less equity within the company, even in instances where their credentials matched those of their male counterparts. The latest lawsuit involves a group of women complaining of gender discrimination and pay disparity during their tenure.

"Women's career trajectories are blunted because they are marginalized and passed over for promotions".

"At Nike, the numbers tell a story of a company where women are devalued and demeaned", the lawsuit alleges. Both described a work environment prone to issues of harassment, similar to the allegations Nike has had to address in the past several months. Johnston, who worked at Nike for almost a decade, said she was sexually harassed with nude pictures and propositions and later mistreated by her male harasser when she rebuffed his advances, according to the lawsuit.

When she reported the incident, one of the directors allegedly responded that "she should be less sensitive to these messages, and that people should expect more such messages".

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Meanwhile, Cahill's complaints call out a co-worker by name-former vice president of global brand digital marketing innovation Daniel Tawiah, who left the company in April.

At the time, CEO Mark Parker conceded that there were internal "reports" that "do not reflect our core values of inclusivity, respect and empowerment".

Former brand analyst Sara Johnston and producer and director Kelly Cahill are leading the suit, which echoes numerous complaints voiced in recent months regarding lack of promotions and positions of power among women at the Swoosh.

"We, and I, missed something. We are laser-focused on making Nike a more inclusive culture and accelerating diverse representation within our leadership teams", Parker wrote.

This article has been updated to include a statement from Nike.

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