Published: Sun, August 12, 2018
Economy | By

Nike Hit With Lawsuit From Ex-Employees Alleging Discrimination

Nike Hit With Lawsuit From Ex-Employees Alleging Discrimination

Four women who used to work for Nike have filed a federal lawsuit against the company, alleging it violated state and US equal-pay laws and fostered a work environment that allowed sexual harassment.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal court in Portland, Oregon, seeks class-action status and accuses the maker of athletic footwear and apparel of violating the Federal Equal Pay Act and similar state laws. "The vast majority of Nike employees live by our values of dignity and respect for others", a spokesperson for the brand said in a statement emailed to Business Insider.

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. Nike judges women more harshly than men, which means lower salaries, smaller bonuses, and fewer stock options", reads the complaint.

Cahill, now an employee of Adidas, contends Nike failed to act after she raised concerns of discrimination with the human resources department. When she told her supervisors what happened, they allegedly told her that Nike's corporate culture revolves around alcohol, and that "the rise of the Internet and cell phones have made drunk messages part of this generation, that she should be less sensitive to these messages, and that people should expect [them]". Her superiors did not allow her to move positions to avoid her harasser, the lawsuit said.

The other plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Samantha Phillips and Tracee Cheng.

The women are also seeking restatement at Nike and back pay.

Edwards, who was being groomed to be a possible successor to Parker, has been blamed in the lawsuit for creating and exacerbating a "hostile work environment". In April, its HR chief sent a memo admitting the company "failed" to promote and hire women and minorities for senior-level roles.

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.

A group of female employees reportedly interviewed women at the brand earlier this year and gave CEO Mark Parker a packet of detailed allegations in March. "He had no idea how to do the job and I had to train him, but he was paid more than I was", she said in the case. "And if all of our teammates don't see the same opportunities, we just can't accept that".

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