A former Nike executive is suing the Beaverton brand for racial discrimination. In the lawsuit, which was reported by Portland Business Journal, former senior director in data analytics Amer Inam is accusing Nike of overlooking him in favor of a less-experienced white employee. According to Inam’s suit, he initially received praise for his work, before being passed up for promotion. The lawsuit goes on to claim that Inam — who was born in India – received a salary $75,000 USD below a white co-worker with similar background and experience.
Elsewhere in the lawsuit, Inam alleges that he was subjected to a “pattern of hostile and intimidating treatment, which differed markedly from the way (his former supervisor) treated the white members of her team.” The supervisor is also accused of criticizing employees of color, not valuing their work and “generally (treating) them like second-class citizens.”
According to this lawsuit, Inam experienced “symptoms of anxiety including but not limited to agitation, depression, lack of hope, psychosomatic anxiety related muscle and joint pains, panic attacks, sleeplessness, nightmares, headaches, nausea, persistent cold, loss of connection with family, and loss of appetite.” The suit also claims that the process of raising these issues internally was long-winded and fruitless. Inam left Nike in December 2018.
Overall, Inam is suing for $516,000 USD in compensation alongside $350,000 USD in non-economic damages and fees.
Dana Sullivan of Buchanan Angeli Altschul & Sullivan LLP — the firm representing Inam — added that it is “tremendously discouraging that a company that markets itself as supportive of people of color fails so miserably at addressing race discrimination internally. 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.”
This is the third lawsuit against Nike regarding its apparently toxic workplace culture, although it is the first to mention racial discrimination. Back in August last year, two former employees sued the company over sexual discrimination.