Four former female employees have filed a lawsuit against Nike, claiming the company pays and promotes women less often than their male peers.
Kelly Cahill, Samantha Phillips, Tracee Cheng and Sara Johnston allege in the lawsuit that they didn’t have as many advancement opportunities as the male employees and were paid less than them.
During Cahill’s career at Nike, she served as a brand marketing director and said she was paid $20,000 less than a male co-worker who did the same job.
Cahill filed four complaints against her boss, Danny Tawiah, but the human resources department didn’t do anything about it. She quit her position at Nike and went to work for Adidas.
When Johnston worked for the retailer, she claimed a male co-worker sent nude photos of himself to her and made other sexual advances. She rejected his advances, so he withheld information from her and didn’t attend her meetings.
Johnston complained to her bosses about the issues she was having and they said that she should let the incident go because the male co-worker was likely just drunk when he sent the inappropriate text messages. She resigned from her position shortly after.
“Women’s career trajectories are blunted because they are marginalized and passed over for promotions,” the lawsuit says. “Nike judges women more harshly than men, which means lower salaries, smaller bonuses, and fewer stock options….Male bad behavior is rarely penalized. For a woman to succeed at Nike, she must far outshine her male counterparts.”
“The numbers don’t lie,” Salerno Owens, an employment lawyer said. “On a global scale, currently 77 percent of Nike’s leadership team are men; 71 percent of its vice presidents are men; and 62 percent of its directors and senior directors are men.”
“Women came into the company paid less than men, then they are ranked more harshly and, as a result, got smaller raises and bonuses. I think Nike wants to say that ‘Just a couple people were responsible for the problem and we’ve gotten rid of them.’ But we know that’s certainly not the case,” Owens added.
The lawsuit asks for unspecified monetary damages and for Nike to prohibit practices that lead to gender discrimination.