Footwear and sports apparel organisation Nike is to face a federal class action lawsuit for pay inequity and gender discrimination.
The complaint, which was filed on 9 August 2018, alleges that Nike’s organisational culture at its Oregon-based head office devalues and demeans female employees. The legal action argues that Nike perpetuates gender-based pay disparities by hiring female staff at lower salaries than male employees, discriminating against female employees during the performance review process, which impacts bonus payments, and promoting female employees less frequently than male employees doing substantially similar work.
The complaint also alleges a corporate culture of sexual harassment.
A Nike spokesperson said: “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.”
The legal action is being brought by four law firms: Markowitz Herbold, Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian and Ho, Ackermann and Tilajef, and India Lin Bodien, Attorney at Law. The lawyers representing the plaintiffs believe that potentially hundreds of current and former head office employees could be covered by the class action lawsuit.
Laura Salerno Owens, shareholder at Markowitz Herbold and one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, added: “The numbers don’t lie. On a global scale, currently 77% of Nike’s leadership team are men, 71% of its vice presidents are men and 62% of its directors and senior directors are men. I’ve represented more than 50 Nike employees and their experiences have been consistent with the plaintiffs’. The more senior the job title, the smaller the percentage of women.”
Byron Goldstein, attorney at Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian and Ho, also representing the plaintiffs, said: “The way Nike marginalises women at its headquarters is completely contrary to how it portrays itself to its customers as valuing women in sports and the importance of providing equal opportunity to play. My firm has litigated some of the largest gender discrimination class actions, and we have seen that when [organisations] take an opportunity like this to level the playing for women in its workforce, it’s a win-win for everyone.”