Four ex-Nike employees said that they endured a “hostile” work culture at the sportswear giant and were paid less than their male peers, according to a lawsuit seeking class-action status that was filed on Thursday in Portland.
The suit said that the company failed to address women’s complaints. “Women’s career trajectories are blunted because they are marginalized and passed over for promotions,” the complaint alleges. “Nike judges women more harshly than men, which means lower salaries, smaller bonuses, and fewer stock options. Women’s complaints to human resources about discrimination and harassment, including sexual assault, are ignored or mishandled. Male bad behavior is rarely penalized. For a woman to succeed at Nike, she must far outshine her male counterparts.”
Plaintiff Kelly Cahill, who worked at Nike for four years, said that she was paid $20,000 less than a male peer in 2017. As part of the employees’ demands, they want Nike to institute “reliable” standards for performance and pay decisions.
Nike lawsuit alleges gender discrimination
Nike was already in hot water for a poor work culture before the lawsuit. Earlier this year, a group of female Nike employees began an informal survey about sexual harassment and discrimination they faced at the company, which kickstarted a more formal inquiry. The executive purge that has occurred after this workplace behavior investigation included Trevor Edwards, the Nike brand president.
To address compensation gaps found in the internal review, Nike said in July that it would adjust pay for more than 7,000 staff out of its 74,000 employees around the world to give “more competitive pay” and to “support a culture in which employees feel included and empowered.”