Nike ex-employees Kelly Cahill and Sara Johnston allege the company paid them less than their male colleagues for equal work and that they were passed over for promotions because of their gender.
“At Nike, the numbers tell a story of a company where women are devalued and demeaned. For many women at Nike, the company hierarchy is an unclimbable pyramid,” the lawsuit states.
Cahill and Johnston want the court to order Nike to pay its employees fairly without regard to gender. They are also seeking reinstatement in the company, unspecified monetary damages and back pay.
The suit alleges that Cahill, who left the company in in 2017 due to the “hostile work environment” and “HR’s ineffective response to her complaints”, was paid US$20,000 a year less than a male co-worker doing the same job.
Nike spokesperson Sandra Carreon-John told CNN that Nike opposes discrimination of any type and has a long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion.
The suit comes after reports in the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times revealed a culture of discrimination and sexual harassment at Nike. At least 11 executives have left the company in the space of a few months, including vice president of footwear Greg Thompson, vice president of diversity and inclusion Antoine Andrews, vice president of global digital brand marketing innovation Daniel Tawiah, senior brand director for Nike Basketball Vikrant Singh, brand president Trevor Edwards and general manager of global categories Jayme Martin.
Nike has more than 70,000 employees worldwide.
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