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Nike Accused of Gender Discrimination in Lawsuit

By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. | Last updated on

Nike has been hit again for alleged discriminating working conditions, this time biased against women. Two former employees. Kelly Cahill and Sara Johnston filed a class action lawsuit in Portland's federal district court, claiming they were subject to hostile working environments, which the company failed to address, and paid less with fewer opportunities than their male counterparts, despite having equal comparable performance. The suit accuses Nike of violating the Federal Equal Pay Act, the Oregon Equal Pay Act, and the Oregon Equality Act.

Heads Have Already Rolled Over Hostile Work Environment

Since the beginning of 2018, eleven Nike executives have resigned over their protective behavior towards male staffers accused of belittling women and foreign-born workers. These executives were brought to the attention of CEO Mark Parker after women started pooling their stories of how demeaning Nike had become towards women.

Reports of staff outings at strip clubs, supervisors bragging about carrying condoms in backpacks, inappropriate touching and emails, coupled with women claiming their careers had been marginalized, all surfaced. A few heads voluntarily rolled, but human resources seemed to do little on their own.

Comp Changes Too Little Too Late

Nike claimed it was giving across-the-board raises and revamping its bonus award formula, away from individual and team performance and more towards company performance, thereby eliminating any possible gender bias. These actions are too little too late for Cahill and Johnston, who claim Nike is still a "good ol' boy" company, where alcohol runs freely, and drunk texting even freer. They are looking for a more "reliable" method of performance analysis, as well as damages, and for women who faced discrimination to be reinstated "to their rightful position."

Though the #MeToo movement is about a year old, it has been predominantly limited to the entertainment industry and select individuals. This is the first time it has been brought as a class-action against an entire company, especially one that claims to support women, or at least women in sports.

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