Two former Nike employees, Kelly Cahill and Sara Johnston, are suing the company, claiming that they made less than their male counterparts and that the corporate environment was hostile towards women. The news comes after two top executives (Jayme Martin and Trevor Edwards) resigned on grounds of “workplace misbehavior” last March.
According to WWD, Johnston claims that a male co-worker who contributed to her performance reviews sent her “inappropriate sexual propositions in messages” and nude photos. When she told her supervisors what happened, they allegedly told her that Nike’s corporate culture revolves around alcohol, and that “the rise of the Internet and cell phones have made drunk messages part of this generation, that she should be less sensitive to these messages, and that people should expect [them].” Upon rejecting her co-worker’s advances, Johnston claims he treated her negatively.
Before she left the company last year, 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. The lawsuit claims that Nike is at fault for failing to “assure a non-hostile work environment that provided equal opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Cahill, who left her job as a director for the company (after being there for four years), claims she made $20,000 less annually than a male director on her team.
“Nike has been aware that class/collective members receive less pay and fewer promotions than male employees at Nike headquarters,” claims the lawsuit. “Nike is also aware that its work environment is hostile towards women. Numerous women have reported hostility and sexual harassment to Nike’s employee relations department…. Instead of addressing these complaints, HR reinforced and exacerbated the hostile work environment. Regardless of the evidence, HR has regularly found such complaints unsubstantiated, avoided taking any meaningful corrective or preventive actions, and otherwise failed to act to end the hostility towards women in the workplace.”