Mar 22, 2019
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Nike faces racial discrimination lawsuit

Mar 22, 2019

 A former Nike employee has filed a lawsuit against the athleticwear company, alleging racial discrimination.

The former employee, Ahmer Inam, worked as a senior director in data analytics and was hired by Nike in 2016. In the suit, Inam, who is from India, claims that he was denied a promotion in favor of a white executive who had less experience, and also claims that a white co-worker with a level of education and experience similar to his own was paid a salary $75,000 higher than his, according to a report by The Portland Business Journal.

Inam resigned from Nike in December of 2018.

In the lawsuit, Inam says he experienced a "pattern of hostile and intimidating treatment, which differed markedly from the way [his former supervisor] treated the white members of her team," and now seeks $516,000 in economic damages, $350,000 in non-economic damages and attorney fees.

This legal dispute marks the third in a series of recent lawsuits that claim discrimination is a major issue at Nike. However, while the first two focused on gender, Inam's suit is the first to focus on race. 

In August of 2018, former employees Kelly Cahill and Sara Johnston filed a lawsuit against Nike alleging company discrimination against women, specifically addressing inequity in pay and promotions, and the facilitation of a hostile work environment at the company's Portland headquarters. Since its initial filing, this suit is now seeking class action status. 

A second suit in September of 2018 was filed against Nike founder Phil Knight, CEO Mark Parker, former Nike brand president Trevor Edwards and the company's board by three Nike shareholders, who claimed that all accused purposefully ignored the company's toxic work environment despite its damaging impact on individual employees and the company as a whole. 

"It's tremendously discouraging that a company that markets itself as supportive of people of color fails so miserably at addressing race discrimination internally," Dana Sullivan, the Buchanan Angeli Altschul & Sullivan LLP attorney who represents Inam, told the Journal. "There's been so much scrutiny over the last year of Nike's treatment of women, but there's an equally distressing story to be told about its treatment of employees of color."

Though Nike has not commented directly on any of the claims, the company has issued a statement saying that it "opposes discrimination of any type and has a long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion."

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