Transgender ex-Nike employee sues company for discrimination, says they talk a good game but…

Grace Carr, DCNF

Portrait Of Drag Queen At City Street. Image: Getty.

A biologically female ex-Nike employee who identifies as male sued the company Tuesday, alleging that Nike employees and supervisors continually discriminated against her and treated her with distain.

First reported by the Willamette Week Wednesday, former Nike employee Jazz Lyles filed a lawsuit Sept. 25 alleging that her coworkers and higher-ups had repeatedly used female pronouns rather than the pronouns she’d asked they use. Lyles filed the suit with the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries against both Nike and Mainz Brady Group, the company’s IT contractor.

“They [Nike] talked a great game on LGBTQ issues, but when you ask them to actually stand up for these issues, it gets communicated to you that you are the problem,” Lyles said, according to the Willamette Week.

Lyles began working at the company on May 1, 2017 and alleges that despite asking her colleagues to use “they,” “them,” or “their” to address her, they continually used biological pronouns and greeted her with, “Hey, girl, what’s up?” Lyles alleges in the suit that her supervisors also ignored a number of requests to amend the situation.

One colleague told Lyles she would not use the requested pronouns because it violated her religious beliefs, according to Lyles. “I’m really not sure what to call you. I know I’m not supposed to call you ‘shemale,’” said another, according to The Willamette Week.

Lyles switched teams at Nike in December 2017 in hopes of joining a more LGBTQ accepting team, but the situation reportedly deteriorated instead of improving. Lyles filed a number of complaints with HR in early August, but was met with no response.

“Nike’s response and solution was not to take corrective action, but instead [the response] was to treat me like I was the problem,” Lyles wrote in the suit. “I felt invisible and unheard and silenced,” Lyles also said, according to the Willamette Week.

After rumors of other accusations about discrimination in the workplace, Nike CEO Mark Parker fired a number of senior executives in May and sent a letter to all Nike employees saying he is “personally committed to making Nike a place where everyone can thrive in an environment of respect, empathy and equal opportunity.” Four former Nike employees sued the company in early August over claims of gender discrimination.

“Everybody makes mistakes,” Basic Rights Oregon workplace trainer Mikki Gillette said, the Willamette Week reported. “Transgender people know that. But if somebody is willfully using the wrong pronoun or the wrong name, it’s reinforcing this idea that transgender people aren’t who they say they are.”

Neither Nike nor the Mainz Brady Group responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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