Nike's Liberal Agenda Backfires as Ex-Employee Sues Over 'Preferred Pronouns'


Lie down with liberal dogs, wake up with liberal fleas.

Nike is one of the most identifiably left-of-center corporations in America, something that became abundantly clear this summer when it recalled a pair of shoes with the Betsy Ross flag on them because endorser Colin Kaepernick — a quarterback who hasn’t quarterbacked in several years but has staked out quite a viable career in activism and/or complaining that the NFL is somehow keeping him from quarterbacking because of that activism sideline — said the Betsy Ross flag carried connotations of slavery with it.

While that shoe wasn’t quite acceptable to the suzerains of swoosh back in Oregon, they did recently announce a shoe commemorating the first day that Kaepernick knelt for the national anthem as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

At least we now know what’s worth venerating in Nike-land.

However, the veneration of preferred gender pronouns apparently doesn’t go deep enough — which is why Nike is now getting sued by a former employee who says people wouldn’t call her “they/them/their.”

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That’s how Jazz Lyles wanted to be referred to. According to CBS News, Lyles — a computer engineer who was a contractor for the company from May 2017 to September 2018 — identifies as transmasculine.

According to, transmasculine is “noting or relating to a person who was born female but whose gender identity is more male than female.” This doesn’t mean the individual necessarily identifies as male, merely that her gender identity is further on the spectrum toward being masculine.

Lyles filed suit in Multnomah Circuit Court in Oregon last week against Nike and Mainz Brady Group, the staffing company that hired her, for $1.1 million. In the suit, Lyles alleges that she was frequently “misgendered” by other Nike employees and that the company didn’t do anything to stop it.

“When someone refuses to acknowledge a person’s gender identity or insists on referring to them by a gender to which they do not identify (called misgendering), this causes real and significant harm,” the complaint read.

“This is particularly true when a person is misgendered repeatedly on a daily basis.”

“While Lyles notified management about the issue multiple times, the companies allegedly failed to implement any policies, procedures and trainings around the use of gender pronouns in the workplace,” CBS News reported.

“On another occasion, after several reports to Nike, the company held a training on proper gender pronouns for Lyles and their coworkers,” the report said. “But the complaint alleged that the training — conducted for the plaintiff’s immediate teammates and not the entire department — was untimely, singled out Lyles and exacerbated their relationship to the team.”

The suit also claims Lyle was called “stupid” and “unstable,” with one employee saying, “I know I’m not supposed to call you ‘she-male.'”

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The story was first reported by Oregon’s Willamette Week in September 2018.

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

Do you think this lawsuit has merit?

Lyles claims that employees used “she” and “her” as pronouns and that they would say things like “Hey, girl, what’s up?”

Her original complaint to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries claimed that one employee said she wouldn’t refer to Lyles by the preferred pronouns “because it would compromise [the co-worker’s] religious beliefs.”

Lyles also claimed another employee stopped talking to her after Lyles sent the person an article titled, “What You’re Actually Saying When You Ignore Someone’s Gender Pronouns.”

This all sounds very charming, but I suppose if you’re a company that used a transgender athlete in an advertisement for the first time earlier this year, you’re supposed to be supportive of someone’s desire to be called by whatever pronouns he or she wants. Instead, Willamette Week said in 2018 that “if true,” Lyles’ original complaint “paints a damning picture of a toxic workplace” at the big swoosh.

Nike officials didn’t respond directly to the lawsuit because, well, they have lawyers and they’re not stupid. They did say, however, that the company “is committed to a culture of diversity, inclusion and respect where everyone can succeed and realize their full potential.”

That’s not what Lyles’ lawsuit says, of course.

“In efforts to maintain a positive brand image and reputation, Nike has stressed inclusivity with its ‘Be True’ campaign, emphasizing equality and diversity to the public, and utilizing transgender athletes as part of that campaign,” it read, according to the Portland Business Journal.

“However, behind closed doors, Nike’s culture is one of inequality and pervasive harassment for those who do not fit the gender stereotypes and mold of the dominant cisgender white male culture.”

Nike is also facing a federal gender pay-gap discrimination lawsuit, just in case you’re an anti-capitalist who needed more evidence it wasn’t “being true.”

For the rest of us, it’s evidence of a company that’s apparently not left enough for the left.

After all, if I’m not mistaken, it’s a central tenet of the left to believe accusers, even when those accusers might be full of bunk. Why not just hand Lyles the $1.1 million and call it a day, then? Stand up for your values, folks. That’s what being “committed to a culture of diversity, inclusion and respect where everyone can succeed and realize their full potential” means in the current environment of the left.

Give Jazz Lyles $1.1 million and admit you’re wrong, Nike. It’s time to “Be True.”

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture