Nike was ordered to release additional information about wage practices in a sweeping gender discrimination lawsuit after Insider and other publications challenged the court seal

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A judge on Friday granted victory to a media group seeking to uncover additional records in a sweeping lawsuit against Nike alleging gender discrimination.

In a 15-page ruling, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jolie A. Russo said Nike must disclose more information about its pay practices, including information about what the plaintiffs allege is a pay gap between male and female employees. feminine.

Nike had attempted to block publication of the information, arguing that plaintiffs’ attorneys had derived the compensation information from confidential employee compensation data and that publication would allow competitors to gain insight into Nike’s compensation practices. Nike also disputed the accuracy of the calculation.

Nike and the plaintiffs have 14 days to file written objections to the decision. If the judge does not overturn the decision, Nike must refile the unredacted documents with the court.

“The court finds that the reasons given by Nike for sealing are neither compelling nor, in the aggregate, outweigh the public interest in disclosure,” Russo wrote. “Defendant’s alleged refusal to pay employees fairly is a matter of public importance and the subject matter of this litigation.”

The lawsuit, filed in 2018, alleges that women in Nike employees have been “devalued and belittled”. He followed explosive reports in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times in which sources described a “boys club culture” at Nike.

Since then, Nike has repeatedly said it has zero tolerance for discrimination. He also updated many human resources practices.

The trial, which is awaiting a decision on a motion to seek collective certification, is being conducted under a protective order, a legal mechanism that can speed up complex trials, including cases involving lots of sensitive personal information.

“We are delighted that the court recognizes the strong public interest in this case,” said Ellen Osoinach, local legal initiative attorney in Oregon for the Journalists Committee for Press Freedom. “The released records will shed light on the extent of Nike’s alleged pay inequities. However, public access to the remaining sealed and redacted records remains a priority.”

Russo also spoke out against Nike’s request to keep certain information sealed regarding a 2018 internal pay equity study.

“The defendant’s mere desire to keep this information confidential is not sufficient in this context, nor does it outweigh the public interest in disclosure, particularly in light of [Nike’s] initial and widely circulated statements regarding the study,” she wrote.

Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Lead plaintiffs attorney Laura Salerno Owens said: “We agree with the court’s decision. In a class action lawsuit affecting thousands of Oregonians, the public has a right to see the evidence. Nike should not Nor should Nike be able to hide statistics proving that Nike discriminates, nor should Nike be able to hide that it stopped its promotional practices study, especially when it publicly touted the study. , “sunlight is the best disinfectant”, the only way to truly get justice is to have transparency and open scrutiny of Nike’s treatment of women in the workplace.”

In her ruling, Russo criticized Nike’s repeated attempts to seal documents, saying it had “mistakenly pointed to certain redactions in its original filing,” which led to the submission of additional documents and an “enormous expense.” “hearing time.

Russo also granted the publications a motion to intervene in the lawsuit, essentially giving them a watchdog role in sealing or redacting documents.

“Courts routinely permit press intervention for the purpose of unsealing court records,” Russo wrote, adding that the interests of the public and the press are “not necessarily represented in litigation.”

Do you work at Nike or have ideas to share? Contact reporter Matthew Kish via the encrypted messaging app Signal (+1-971-319-3830) or email ([email protected]). CheckInsider’s Guide to Sourcesfor more tips on sharing information securely.

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