Ex-Nike employees sue company, alleging unequal compensation

Mae Love
August 12, 2018

Nike is facing a lawsuit from two former employees who claim that they were discriminated against during their time at the company.

According to the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in OR, both quit because they were being paid less than their male colleagues for substantially similar work and purportedly had fewer promotion opportunities. "The vast majority of Nike employees live by our values of dignity and respect for others", a spokesperson for the brand said in a statement emailed to Business Insider. Former brand strategist Sara Johnston and stylist Kelly Cahill have taken up the mantle for others subjected to similar conditions, below them in the pecking order. Hence they scored lower on group projects, and received fewer benefits, all amounting to less equity within the company, even in instances where their credentials matched those of their male counterparts. The Wall Street Journal reported he was forced to leave Nike in April. She also said that she did not get promoted despite positive performance reviews. She resigned previous year because of "the hostile work environment, HR's ineffective response to her complaints, and the lack of promotion opportunities because of her gender", according to the lawsuit. "He had no idea how to do the job and I had to train him, but he was paid more than I was", she said in the case. Johnston, who worked at Nike for almost a decade, said she was sexually harassed with nude pictures and propositions and later mistreated by her male harasser when she rebuffed his advances, according to the lawsuit. After rejecting his advances, Jonhston says she was treated negatively in the workplace.

The news comes after a tumultuous spring for Nike, which parted ways with almost a dozen executives earlier this year following reports of workplace toxic to women and a rampant boys club culture.

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News of trouble at the Swoosh first broke in March with the ousting of former brand president Trevor Edwards.

Before she left the company a year ago, Johnston was an intermediate business systems analyst, making $75,000 annually, although she says that her responsibilities should have entitled her to a promotion that would have earned her between $85,000 and $135,000. A word of advice to Nike for closing the gender pay gap and ending gender discrimination within the company: Just do it.

CEO Mark Parker apologized to Nike employees for the hostile culture in May, according to CNBC.

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