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By Stu Woo
This article is being republished as part of our daily reproduction of WSJ.com articles that also appeared in the U.S. print edition of The Wall Street Journal (August 11, 2018).
Two women filed a lawsuit against Nike Inc., alleging it discriminated against them in pay and career advancement, the latest development amid scrutiny over the company's workplace culture.
The women say Nike paid them less than male counterparts at the company. The suit, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Portland, Ore., contained other allegations of inappropriate workplace behavior, some of them from unnamed plaintiffs.
The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, claims Nike "has intentionally and willfully discriminated" against women "with respect to pay, promotions, and conditions of employment." It seeks that the plaintiffs "are made whole" from lost compensation and benefits, among other damages.
"Nike opposes discrimination of any type and has a longstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion," a Nike spokeswoman said Friday. "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."
Class-action lawsuits aren't unusual when a big, listed company faces public criticism. Still, the new allegations contained in the lawsuit could intensify scrutiny on Nike as it struggles to manage wider criticism about how it treats its female employees.
Nike has purged at least 11 executives amid complaints about inappropriate workplace behavior. Nike's top human-resources executive said the company has failed to promote enough women and minorities. Last month, Nike said it would give raises to some 7,000 staffers after an internal review of its compensation practices.
"When we discover issues, we take action. We are laser-focused on making Nike a more inclusive culture and accelerating diverse representation within our leadership teams," Chief Executive Mark Parker said in a statement this spring.
In the suit, Kelly Cahill, a former producer and director at Nike from 2012 until 2017, alleged that she made $20,000 less in salary than a male peer. She said she was unable to secure a promotion despite performance reviews that met or exceeded expectations, according to the suit.
Ms. Cahill alleged that one executive referred to women as "dykes" on several occasions and yelled at a female employee in front of other co-workers, blaming her for a project's failure. Ms. Cahill alleged that she complained to human-resources staff on four occasions, but that resulted in no meaningful action.
Another former Nike employee, Sara Johnston, was hired at a starting salary of $33,000 and was told Nike wouldn't negotiate starting pay, according to the suit. The suit alleged Nike two months later hired a man into the same role on Ms. Johnston's team. His starting annual salary was $35,000, despite what she alleged was the male's less relevant experience and lower-level credentials, according to the suit.
Ms. Johnston also alleged that a male co-worker sent her nude photographs of himself and continued to send non-work-related messages after she asked him to stop. He then treated her negatively at work, refused to attend meetings she organized and withheld information she needed to do her job, she alleged.
Write to Stu Woo at Stu.Woo@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
August 11, 2018 02:47 ET (06:47 GMT)
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