Nike recently filed a motion to keep certain parts of a gender discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit sealed.
Earlier this week, Nike went to a federal judge to ask that certain parts of a sexual harassment and gender discrimination lawsuit stay under wraps. The request could end up prolonging the legal proceedings, but why was it filed in the first place? For starters, the suit was filed back in 2018 and is seeking class-action status. It was filed on behalf of four former Nike employees over allegations that they were “subject to gender discrimination and sexual harassment while at Nike.”
So far, Nike has denied the allegations and claims the company has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination.
At the moment, the case is “proceeding under a protective order, a legal move that enables lawyers to more quickly and freely exchange confidential information, including sensitive human resources records.” Back in January, the plaintiffs involved in the suit filed a motion for class-action status. Right now, that motion for class certification against the popular shoe company, as well as about 100 exhibits, “are sealed, pursuant to the protective order the case is currently moving forward under.”
This week, attorneys representing Nike noted they’ve “conferred with plaintiffs’ attorneys since mid-January about unsealing parts of the motion for class certification and some of the exhibits but have been unable to come to an agreement.” The lawyers also noted that the company is “willing to make the overwhelming majority of plaintiffs’ motion and exhibits public, but it wants several records to remain sealed, including a plaintiffs’ analysis of aggregate pay shortfalls and documents about three former employees who were the subject of complaints.”
The same lawyers claim the “pay shortfall conclusions are fundamentally flawed and should remain under seal, partly because they’re based on confidential individual compensation information and releasing them would only serve to promote public scandal.” For starters, the lawyers claim that three of the plaintiffs are “not named parties to the litigation and the information, if made public, could lead to unwarranted reputational injury.”
Attorneys representing the plaintiffs vowed to contest Nike’s motion. Laura Salerno Owens, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs, said:
“We are still processing Nike’s lengthy brief, but it is striking that the key information Nike wants to seal is the impact numbers…Impact numbers do not reveal what any particular employee made, it just shows the aggregated percentages or pay difference—not specific pay amounts. The public and potential class members have a right to know the impact of Nike’s pay practices on thousands of women in Oregon.”