Nike sued by those alleging hostile workplace

Female former employees of Nike (NYSE: NKE) are suing the company over allegations that the athletic wear giant systematically discriminated against women and fostered a hostile work environment.

The suit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Portland, Oregon, says Nike "intentionally and willfully discriminated against [women] with respect to pay, promotions, and conditions of employment."

The complaint, which seeks class-action status, is led by former employees of the company's Beaverton, Oregon, headquarters, one of whom now works for rival Adidas.

They paint a picture of a corporate culture that systematically discriminated against women, fostered a hostile workplace and even tolerated or ignored sexual assault, according to the lawsuit.

A statement says Nike opposes discrimination in any form. "We are committed to competitive pay and benefits for our employees. The vast majority of Nike employees live by our values of dignity and respect for others."

Complaints first surfaced at Nike in March when a group of women presented CEO Mark Parker with a survey on gender discrimination.

Nike reacted swiftly with Parker quickly restructuring his leadership team and announcing that then-President Trevor Edwards would retire in August.

Edwards, who was being groomed to be a possible successor to Parker, has been blamed in the lawsuit for creating and exacerbating a "hostile work environment."

The company also admitted it failed in hiring and promoting women, ousted at least 11 executives and announced raises for 7,000 employees after conducting an internal review of its pay practices.

The CEO apologized to employees in May.