Nike accused of violating gender wage equality laws in class-action suit

A group of four female former Nike employees on Thursday filed a class-action lawsuit against the sports apparel giant, alleging the company engaged in gender-based wage discrimination and fostered a work culture that enabled harassment, according to a report.

The women are accusing Nike of violating both state and federal wage equality laws and pursuing a court order that would force the brand to pay employees equally, regardless of gender. The plaintiffs also seek unspecified monetary damages.

"Women came into the company paid less than men, then they are ranked more harshly and, as a result, got smaller raises and bonuses,” attorney Laura Salerno Owens told the Oregonian, which first reported the lawsuit. “I think Nike wants to say that 'Just a couple people were responsible for the problem and we've gotten rid of them.' But we know that's certainly not the case."

Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit. Shares were flat in early trading Friday.

At least 11 Nike executives, including former Nike brand president and presumptive future CEO Trevor Edwards, have left the company since allegations of workplace misconduct first surfaced in March. At the time, CEO Mark Parker said Nike was reviewing its human resources practices to prevent future incidents.

Last month, Nike said that more than 7,000 of its employees, or about 10% of its workforce, would receive pay raises after an internal review of employee compensation.