Two Ex-Employees Slap Nike with Lawsuit Alleging “Intentional and Willful” Discrimination

After months of scandal regarding Nike’s workplace culture, two women, Kelly Cahill and Sara Johnston, have filed a lawsuit against Nike Inc. alleging the company discriminated against them in pay and career advancement.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the women say Nike paid them less than male counterparts at the company. The suit also contains allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior, some of them from unnamed plaintiffs.

The lawsuit is seeking class-action status and claims that Nike “has intentionally and willfully discriminated” against women “with respect to pay, promotions, and conditions of employment,” according to the WSJ. The suits aims at making the plaintiffs whole from lost compensation and benefits, as well as other damages.

While Nike representatives did not reply to the Wall Street Journal for comment, the suit alleges that Kelly Cahill filed complaints to human-sources staff on four occasions after an executive referred to women as “dykes” several times and yelled at a female employee in front of other co-workers in an effort to blame her for a project’s failure. All four complaints resulted in no meaningful action.

Moreover, Ms. Cahill, a former producer and director at Nike from 2012 to 2017, alleged in the suit that she made $20,000 less in salary than a male peer. According to the WSJ, she was not promoted despite performance reviews that met or exceeded expectations.

The other named plaintiff in the latest suit against Nike, Sara Johnston, was hired at a starting salary of $33,000 and, according to the suit, was told that Nike wouldn’t negotiate starting pay. The suit alleges that just two months later Nike hired a man into the same role on Ms. Johnston’s team for an annual salary of $35,000, despite the man’s lesser experience and lower-level credentials.

Additionally, Ms. Johnston alleged that a male co-worker at Nike sent her nude photo images of himself and continued to send non-work-related messages after she asked him to stop, according to the WSJ. Then, the male treated her negatively at work, refused to attend meetings she organized, and withheld information she needed to do her job, she alleged in the suit.

This lawsuit comes after Nike lost 11 executives in the last fiscal quarter, some at the most upper echelons of the company, to a corporate culture scandal that failed to recognize serious complaints about workplace issues. Reports also unveiled that human resource managers at Nike ignored complaints from women employees for years. In May, Nike announced that it had completed the initial phase of its internal investigation, which begun in March, into complaints of inappropriate workplace behavior.

To read the rest of the excellent reporting on this story head to The Wall Street Journal.

ex nike employees file lawsuit against nike

Natalie Behring/Getty Images

Source: The Wall Street Journal

3 Comments

  1. If you are told starting salary is not negotiable, it’s a test. Push back. Show confidence and strength.

    1. When I read 33k I had to make sure I wasn’t misreading. Painfully little for working at Nike. I guess the brand can do that cause it’s “working at Nike”

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