- Two former Nike employees filed a class action lawsuit against Nike at the District Court of Oregon Thursday alleging sex discrimination on the grounds that Nike pays women less than their male counterparts, promotes women less and offers them smaller annual salary increases and bonuses, according to court filings. According to a company statement emailed to Retail Dive by a spokesperson, “Nike opposes discrimination of any type and has a long-standing commitment 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.”
- However, the two plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit, claim the company fosters an environment “where women are devalued and demeaned” and that “the company hierarchy is an unclimbable pyramid.” They claim that women are passed over for promotions and must “far outshine her male counterparts” to succeed.
- In addition to poor promotion opportunities, former Nike employees Johnston and Cahill also claim the company ignores female employees’ complaints about sexual harassment and discrimination, and that “male bad behavior is rarely penalized.” The lawsuit draws on Johnston’s experience at Nike, from 2008 to 2017, as well as Cahill’s from 2013 to 2017, and other — sometimes unnamed — employees.
- The company has attempted to make up for its “toxic” workplace culture by apologizing to employees, promoting women and raising salaries. Even though the lawsuit claims that the company’s workplace is “hostile” and “devalues its female employees.” Among the chief offenders was Edwards, who, according to the lawsuit, “caused and exacerbated a hostile work environment.”
The filing also points states that, prior to his abrupt departure in March, Edwards was considered the likely replacement of current CEO Mark Parker and was offered a $6 million retention award by Nike, as well as a 14.3% increase to his salary, just weeks before his resignation. Meanwhile, in 2017, Cahill claims she was paid $20,000 less than a male colleague on her team who did “substantially similar work,” and Johnston alleges that her starting salary was $2,000 less than a male employee hired shortly afterward.