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Nike executives would get ‘sloppy drunk’ and prey on female subordinates, claims unsealed suit

Executives at a Nike US office would get ‘sloppy drunk’ and prey on female subordinates, an unsealed 2018 gender discrimination lawsuit claimed. 

The series of documents provide shocking accounts from female staffers who worked at the the firm’s Oregon headquarters, alleging sexist attitudes and behavior. 

The accounts – which include a woman’s recollection of walking into a campus gym to find a senior staffer receiving oral sex from a female subordinate and one who was told by male co-workers to ‘dress sexier’ – were taken from thousands of pages of handwritten and typed surveys and interviews from staffers. 

Their release came as part of a lawsuit brought against the company by 14 female staffers alleging gender discrimination at the Oregon office, filed less than four months after reports surfaced that Nike was offering staffers such surveys.

Delivered to then-CEO Mark Parker – now executive chairman of Nike – the complaints seemingly fell on deaf ears, with the company not addressing the concerns until the suits filing four years ago.

Delivered to then-CEO Mark Parker – now executive chairman of Nike – the complaints seemingly fell on deaf ears, with the company not addressing the concerns until the suits filing four years ago

The documents, which date back to 2018, detail how female staffers at the company’s main branch in Beaverton felt either unsafe or mistreated at the office, and even aired belief that Nike management were unlikely to address their concerns.

The anonymous surveys from the unnamed women – who are not confirmed to be of the 14 plaintiffs to file the suit – allege how they were subjected to sexual advances and  suggestive comments from male execs, as well as hints and innuendos alluding to sex.

In one survey obtained by the DailyMail.com, an employee wrote that she had been directed by male co-workers to ‘dress sexier,’ with the staffer recalling how she was encouraged several times to ‘show some skin.’ 

‘“Maybe if you dressed nicer I would be on time,”‘ the respondent recalled being told by a senior staffer. ‘”Take that baggy jacket off and show some skin.”’ 

Their release came as part of a lawsuit brought against the company by 14 female staffers alleging gender discrimination at the Oregon office in Beaverton (pictured), filed less than four months after reports surfaced that Nike was offering staffers such surveys

Their release came as part of a lawsuit brought against the company by 14 female staffers alleging gender discrimination at the Oregon office in Beaverton (pictured), filed less than four months after reports surfaced that Nike was offering staffers such surveys

Another claimed certain executives were widely known amongst office workers as repeat offenders – calling them ‘well known philanderers’ who used their ‘influence and power’ to target lower level employees.

In one of the most disturbing entries, an employee recalled how she had witnessed a male executive receiving oral sex from a lower-ranking female in the company gym. 

Another alleged that ‘sloppy drunk’ men embraced female co-workers or invited them to ‘work dinners’ to discuss their career or projects they were working on, only to instead be propositioned sex.  

The documents, which date back to 2018, detail how female staffers at the company's main branch in Beaverton felt either unsafe or mistreated at the office, and even aired belief that Nike management were unlikely to address their concerns

The documents, which date back to 2018, detail how female staffers at the company’s main branch in Beaverton felt either unsafe or mistreated at the office, and even aired belief that Nike management were unlikely to address their concerns

‘| have twice reported bullying by a senior VP and HR said they would “take care of it”, “we are coaching them.”’ that respondent wrote, adding that she saved copies of emails to HR, which were ultimately never addressed.

‘I have friends who have reported bullying,’ the woman wrote. ‘No action was ever taken except a “we will talk to them.”‘

She also recalled how ‘a VP at Nike’ bragged to her about sleeping with a female employee in-a closet at the Oregon office during work hours. 

The series of documents, unsealed last month, provide shocking, anonymous accounts from female staffers who worked at the the firm's Oregon headquarters, alleging sexist attitudes and behavior by company brass

The series of documents, unsealed last month, provide shocking, anonymous accounts from female staffers who worked at the the firm’s Oregon headquarters, alleging sexist attitudes and behavior by company brass

Another respondent quoted a male manager as saying: ‘No one gives a f**k about female empowerment’ – while another remarked that Nike was a ‘giant men’s sports team, where favoritism prevails and females couldn’t possibly play in the sandbox.’

The women reportedly never reported the incidents as they thought they would not be taken seriously, with one woman writing: ‘(Employee resources) and HR at this company are a joke,” one woman wrote in a survey. 

‘Females at this company have felt very little power to change a culture and environment that has been and continues to be disrespectful to women,” another employee added.

The woman who was told to ‘show some skin’ remarked that she ‘Kept it to myself because of who [the unspecified senior staffer] is at the company.’ 

The surveys began to circulate at the office in 2018 as female employees grew increasingly fed-up with the alleged mistreatment, as well as alleged gender pay gap disparities and the company’s handling of previous complaints.

 In total, several dozens of surveys were collected, but only 10 made it into court dosuments pertaining to the current case, brought by 14 former or current employees including former staffers Kelly Cahill and Sara Johnston, who both resigned from the US branch of the company in 2017.

Th surveys were release four years into Cahill’s and Johston’s case – which demands back pay an reinstatement in the company, while also alleging that Nike violated the Equal Pay Act. They are joined by 12 others who contend the same sentiments.

A judge rejected Nike’s request to keep the content of the surveys sealed, leading to their unsealing last month. 

Parker, the current executive chairman of Nike, received the surveys in March 2018, Insider reported. At the time, he was CEO of the company. Days after receiving the surveys, Parker announced a management reshuffle, leading to at least 11 senior executives leaving the company just before the suit was filed. 

At the time, he apologized to employees in an email. 

Parker, the current executive chairman of Nike, received the surveys in March 2018, Insider reported. At the time, he was CEO of the company. Days after receiving the surveys, Parker announced a management reshuffle, leading to at least 11 senior executives leaving the company just before the suit was filed

Parker, the current executive chairman of Nike, received the surveys in March 2018, Insider reported. At the time, he was CEO of the company. Days after receiving the surveys, Parker announced a management reshuffle, leading to at least 11 senior executives leaving the company just before the suit was filed

Parker wrote: ‘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.

The suit, which was denied class action status earlier this year, is still ongoing.  

The plaintiffs, meanwhile, intend to appeal the ruling, their lawyers say, claiming the problems at Nike were systemic and not limited to just a few high-level staffers. 

‘It wasn’t limited to one vertical or one department,’ Laura Salerno Owens, the lead attorney in the case, has said. ‘It wasn’t limited to one manager. This was a common experience throughout the company.’

Nike has  seemingly since taken measures to improve female representation at the top levels of the company, with three women – Sarah Mensah, VP/GM of North America; Amy Montagne, VP/GM of Asia Pacific and Latin America – now leading the company’s geographic regions. All were hired after the reports of the survey first surfaced in 2018.

 

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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