Nike has been in the hot seat since earlier this spring regarding a proposed class action alleging wage and worker safety violations. A former employee at the retail store in San Clemente alleged in a February 2017 class action that the company fails "to furnish safe and healthful employment and place of employment" under California state law.
He said that while working as a sales associate, workers were not provided seating on the job and were forced to share headsets, which he characterized as an "unhealthful and unsanitary practice." The original complaint stated that this practice exposes workers to various illnesses by the close contact with the skin, ear wax and bodily fluids like sweat.
Nike executive resigns amid investigation
The law suit also addressed wage theft and says Nike fails to reimburse workers for required uniforms. As of this month, Nike's brand president will leave his post immediately amid the workplace complaint investigation. A group of former employees filed a class-action lawsuit against the brand for engaging in gender-based wage discrimination and fostering a work culture that enabled harassment.
The accusers say that Nike violates both state and federal wage equality laws and are seeking change that would give equal pay to employees, regardless of gender. Nike did not immediately comment on the lawsuit, but the plaintiffs are also requesting unspecified monetary damages.
Since the allegations first surfaced in March, at least 11 Nike executives have left the company. Nike announced that thousands of its employees would receive pay raises after internal interviewing.
Sometimes an employer violates wage and hour laws by mistake. Other times, they do so intentionally. And other times, a more complicated issue arises – forcing employees to buy new Nike apparel once per quarter and still paying them minimum wage. It will be interesting to see how this case pans out, but for now, Nike is an example of how companies can run afoul of wage and hour law, specifically regarding gender. Any employee that believes they are subject to an employer who violates their right to fair and equitable pay should consult with an attorney to address their case.