Last May, Allyson Felix, a six-time Olympic gold medal winner revealed the discriminatory policy of Nike against expecting and pregnant athletes. The global sportswear brand came under severe backlash after that.
According to a recent letter shared by Felix from Nike, the brand has now promised no performance-related pay reductions for 18 months, dating from one month into an athlete’s pregnancy.
This effectively gives female athletes 10 months post-birth to regain their fitness and ability to compete at their pre-pregnancy level.
Felix posted, “Our voices have power. Nike has joined in officially and contractually providing maternal protection to the female athletes they sponsor. This means that female athletes will no longer be financially penalized for having a child. I am grateful to John Slusher and Mark Parker for their leadership and their desire to guide Nike as a company who believes that we are all more than athletes. And THANK YOU to brands who have already made this commitment. Who is next?”
In an investigation launched by New York Times, Alysia Montano, Allyson Felix and Kara Goucher broke the terms of their non-disclosure agreement and spoke of the turmoil they faced from their sponsors.
Basically, female athletes who chose to have children risked pay cuts during pregnancy. In the case of Felix, after the birth of her daughter in November of 2018, negotiations regarding her renewed contract with Nike saw the brand want to pay her 70 per cent less than before birth.
According to the new contract, If an athlete becomes pregnant, Nike may not apply any performance-related reductions (if any) for a consecutive period of 18 months, beginning eight months prior to athlete’s due date. During such period Nike may not apply any right of termination as a result of ATHETE not competing due to pregnancy.