- Nike is facing a potential class-action lawsuit over alleged widespread gender discrimination.
- Important filings in the lawsuit have been sealed or heavily redacted.
- Insider and two Oregon news outlets on Friday argued in a court motion for unsealing the documents.
Insider, The Oregonian, and the Portland Business Journal on Friday filed a motion to intervene in a sweeping gender discrimination lawsuit against Nike in an effort to unseal more filings in the case.
The lawsuit is proceeding under a protective order, a legal approach that allows attorneys to more quickly exchange sensitive information.
But as the lawsuit enters the critical period when a judge will decide whether to certify the case as a class action, a number of documents remain sealed or redacted. Hundreds of court filings, including corporate records and testimony from expert witnesses, Nike employees, and the women who brought the lawsuit, are off-limits to the public.
The 14 plaintiffs in the lawsuit want a class of roughly 5,000 female Nike employees certified.
“Thousands of current and former Nike employees and their families will be impacted by the court’s decision,” Ellen Osoinach, a Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press attorney, wrote in the motion. “As one of the most well-known multinational corporations in the world, Nike’s employment practices – which are directly at issue in this matter – are closely watched by the public.”
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is representing Insider, The Oregonian, and the Portland Business Journal.
The lawsuit, filed in 2018, alleges that female Nike employees are “devalued and demeaned.”
“Nike judges women more harshly than men, which means lower salaries, smaller bonuses, and fewer stock options,” plaintiffs alleged in a 2018 complaint.
Nike has repeatedly said it has zero tolerance for discrimination and denied the allegations.
In mid-March, Nike said it was willing to make the “overwhelming majority” of records in the lawsuit public, but it asked the judge to keep some of the case under seal.
Nike has since lifted the seal on numerous records, including some that show the company’s progress towards addressing disparities in the workplace.
In their motion Friday, Insider, The Oregonian, and the Portland Business Journal argued significant information remains sealed, including roughly 100 exhibits attached to the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification.
“(T)he parties have filed numerous documents relating to class certification entirely under seal or with significant redaction, leaving the press and the public with scant access to the underlying facts or arguments and limited vantage to understand the details of this important judicial proceeding,” Osoinach wrote.
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