Nike Sued by Ex-Employees Over Gender Discrimination

Nike Inc. has been hit with a class-action lawsuit filed by four female ex-employees over allegations of gender discrimination.

The lawsuit highlights that Nike pays and gives more opportunities to male workers more than their female counterparts. It also accused the company of fostering a hostile work environment for female employees.

This isn’t the first time the athletic apparel company would be accused of a bad work culture. A few months ago, it parted ways with 11 senior executives after complaints surfaced about bias and bullying management.

In addition, the lawsuit alleged that Nike failed to take action against make workers who sexually and verbally harass the women.

2 former employees have sued Nike, claiming a culture of sexual harassment and gender bias at the company

— The New York Times (@nytimes) August 10, 2018

Nike’s ex-employees: Kelly Cahill, Samantha Phillips, Sarah Johnston and Tracee Cheng attributed the company’s corporate problems to a lack of women in top leadership positions.

The suit cited the main arbiters of Nike’s current work practices as; “a small group of high-level executives who are majority male”.

The plaintiffs revealed that they were ignored for promotions, paid lower than the male workers for doing comparable work; they even received little to no response to their constant complaints.

They accused Nike of violating both the Federal Equal Pay Act and the Oregon Equal Pay Act, and the Oregon Equality Act as well.


How Did Nike Respond To the Allegations?

In a statement released by Nike; it said it is not in support of discrimination in any form and that it has always been committed to diversity and inclusion.

“We are committed to competitive pay and benefits for our employees. The vast majority of Nike employees live by our values of dignity and respect for others.”

The plaintiffs, however, said that their careers were demeaned and damaged because of their gender.


The lawsuit read;

“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.”


One of the plaintiffs, Sarah Johnston who worked at the company for almost ten years, alleged that she was sexually harassed with obscene, nude images from her sexual harasser. After rejecting his sexual advances, he retaliated by maltreating her.

But even after reporting the incident to superiors, she was only told by one of the directors to let the incident go. She was told to be less concerned about the messages, claiming it is only common for people to receive such messages.

The department failed to take any action to keep her away from the harasser.

Other occurrences were cited by the lawsuit; such as the instance where a senior worker was talking about another employee’s breast in an email. As well as when male workers were repeatedly using offensive and vulgar names to address female workers.

You can read the full details of the lawsuit here: Cahill et al. v. Nike, Inc.

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