Female Nike employees allege culture of sexism in lawsuit

Business

In this file photo dated Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, a Nike company logo is displayed outside a Nike store in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton, file)

(NewsNation) — Nike executives allegedly preyed on female subordinates while the company ignored complaints, according to an unsealed gender discrimination lawsuit against the company, The Guardian reported.

In 2018, allegations of a “boys’ club” culture rocked Nike’s Oregon headquarters. Nike has provided more than 5,000 pages of records, including surveys of female employees that detail how female employees at the company were concerned that Nike’s management was unlikely to address their concerns.

Female employees allege sexist attitudes and behavior at the shoe giant alongside corporate bullying and fears of retaliation, according to the lawsuit.

In one survey, obtained by the Business Insider, an employee wrote that she had been directed by male co-workers to “dress sexier”; another identified certain executives as “well known philanderers with lower level employees whom they exert influence and power over.”

In a third entry, an employee said she witnessed a male executive receiving oral sex from a lower-ranking female in the company gym. While another alleged that “sloppy drunk” men embraced female co-workers or invited them to “work dinners.”

The so-called Starfish surveys were allegedly delivered to then-Chief Executive Mark Parker, now Nike’s executive chairperson, in March 2018, prompting news reports and company efforts to reform Nike’s alleged “boys’ club” culture,” the Insider reported.

However, the surveys remained out of sight until they were unsealed after a legal challenge by Insider, the Oregonian, and the Portland Business Journal for a protective order to be lifted on a lawsuit that seeks to expand the number of plaintiffs from 14 to a class-action case involving roughly 5,000.

The court’s release of about 10 surveys may amount to around one-third of those taken, according to the publication. Nike, headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon, has said it does not comment on active litigation, the Insider reported.

According to the Insider, after the surveys were delivered, Parker announced a management reshuffle and responded to employees with an apology: “Over the past few weeks, we’ve become aware of reports occurring within our organization that do not reflect our core values of inclusivity, respect and empowerment.”

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