A recent class action lawsuit filed against Nike alleges the company has discriminated against its employees by failing to pay, promote, and treat women equally. The plaintiffs are alleging that Nike demeaned and devalued women employees.
The lawsuit comes nearly a month after the company announced that it would be giving roughly 10 percent of its employees pay raises, which according to a CNBC, and any casual observer for that matter, was done to remedy the past discrimination and mistreatment of women employees that was revealed within the last year.
Remedial Measures Don't Provide a Remedy
Law students coast-to-coast are taught in torts that remedial measures are not evidence of liability. However, like most everyone knows, no one fixes nothing that isn't broken. And as lawyers, when a company takes drastic actions to fix past problems, you know there are likely a few cracked eggs that have a good case, particularly as Nike waited nearly a decade to comply with the law (the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was passed in 2009).
Notably, in March of this year, brand president Trevor Edwards and vice president Jayme Martin both resigned over "behavioral issues that are inconsistent with Nike's values." In today's world of #MeToo and #TimesUp, that's pretty much code for sexual harassment and gender discrimination.
The complaint, filed by two former employees, alleges that:
- "Women's career trajectories are blunted because they are marginalized and passed over for promotions."
- "Nike judges women more harshly than men, which means lower salaries, smaller bonuses, and fewer stock options....Male bad behavior is rarely penalized."
The suit claims that the company failed to handle sexual harassment complaints, and routinely denied women opportunities.
For companies trying to remedy past business practices that violate the law, it's might be best to heed the advice of Tuco Benedicto Pacífico Juan María Ramírez, from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: If you're going to do something, do it, don't talk about it first (especially if there's exposure).
George Khoury, Esq.