By News-Register wire services • News-Register wire services • 

Mac grad among women suing Nike

PORTLAND — A McMinnville High grad and three other women who once worked for Nike filed a federal lawsuit alleging the company violated state and U.S. equal-pay laws and fostered a work environment that allowed sexual harassment.

Plaintiff Kelly Cahill, a Mac High 2000 alum, worked for Nike for four years — much of that time as a brand marketing director for Nike.com. She claimed in the lawsuit that she was paid $20,000 a year less in 2017 than a male co-worker doing much the same job.

She says she filed four complaints against her boss — one of the 11 executives who left the company last spring after complaints about pay and harassment were made public in a New York Times expose. Nike’s human resources department took no action at the time, the suit alleges. Cahill quit and went to work for Adidas.
Attorney Laura Salerno Owens, who filed the lawsuit, said Nike continues to have a “good-old-boy’s culture” in which women enter the company with lower pay and receive smaller raises and bonuses.

“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,” Owens said.

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified monetary damages and a court order requiring Nike to pay its employees fairly without regard to gender.

Sara Johnston alleges a male co-worker made sexual advances and retaliated when she rejected his propositions. She complained to her boss in early 2016.

“In response, one of the directors said, in effect, that Nike has a culture that revolves around alcohol, that Ms. Johnston should let the incidents go,” according to the lawsuit.

The situation escalated after Johnston claims she learned the same co-worker was propositioning other women and had groped another.

She again tried to lodge a complaint with human resources, but the department took no action and the male co-worker was promoted to a position where he would work more closely with Johnston, who decided to resign, according to the suit.

The other plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Samantha Phillips and Tracee Cheng.

Nike officials declined comment on the lawsuit to The Oregonian and did not immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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