Prior Restraint

Judge Orders Oregon Newspaper Not To Publish Documents Linked to Nike Lawsuit

The Nike swoosh logo is pictured on a store in New York City
The Nike swoosh logo is pictured on a store in New York City, New York, Sept. 4, 2018. (Reuters/Carlo Allegri)

By The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A federal judge has ordered an Oregon newspaper not to publish documents that it obtained regarding a sex discrimination lawsuit against sports behemoth Nike.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reported that an attorney who represents plaintiffs in the case sent the documents to one of its reporters on Jan. 19 and then asked for them back. When the news outlet declined, the attorney filed a court motion requesting they be returned.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jolie Russo approved the motion on Friday and ordered the news outlet to return the documents.

“The Court is aware that certain documents marked ‘Confidential’ and ‘Attorneys’ Eyes Only’ have been inadvertently disclosed by plaintiff’s counsel to the Oregonian via e-mail,” Russo wrote, ordering the outlet to return the records and “agree not to disseminate that information in any way; and to destroy any copies in its possession.”

Russo said the documents fall under the case’s protective order, which withholds some content from public view.

The Oregonian/OregonLive said it planned to appeal.

“Prior restraint by government goes against every principle of the free press in this country,” said Editor and Vice President of Content Therese Bottomly. “This is highly unusual, and we will defend our First Amendment rights in court.”

Neither the attorney nor Nike immediately responded to requests for comment from The Associated Press.

The sex discrimination suit, filed in 2018, alleges Nike’s workplace is hostile toward women and that the Oregon-based company underpays female employees.

The Oregonian/OregonLive said it had previously intervened in the lawsuit as part of a media coalition that requested the court unseal certain legal records.

The news outlet said it was working on a separate article based on independent reporting when it received the documents.