Allyson Felix Plays Key Role in Change to Nike's Maternity Policy for Sponsored Athletes

After pressure from Olympic sprinter Allyson Felix, Nike recently announced a change to its maternity policy that will provide financial protections for pregnant athletes and new mothers sponsored by the company. The announcement comes just a month after Felix ended her seven-year relationship with Nike to sign with Athleta — the first athlete to be sponsored by the women's athletic wear company.

In a letter to Nike-sponsored athletes dated August 12, 2019, Nike’s executive vice president of global sports marketing John Slusher explained the new change to athlete contracts. The amended language now reads:

"If 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 (if any) as a result of ATHLETE not competing due to pregnancy."

Following the December 2018 birth of her daughter, Camryn, Felix published an op-ed in the The New York Times about her contract dispute with Nike over performance reductions imposed on her because of her pregnancy—reductions that resulted in 70 percent less pay. Felix’s op-ed came on the heels of a similar NYT op-ed published in May 2019 by fellow Olympic runners and former Nike-sponsored athletes Alysia Montaño and Kara Goucher.

Already a World Champion in her sport, Felix has now become a world champion for women by fearlessly using the power of her voice, and the power of her purse, to influence unjust corporate policies—hopefully sparking a trend among many other major brands.

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