(Bloomberg) -- Nike Inc. female workers who accuse the company of gender discrimination failed to persuade a federal magistrate they should be allowed to join together to sue the athletic shoe maker as a group.

Magistrate Judge Jolie A. Russo in Portland, Oregon, recommended that the women’s request for class-action status be denied, but her findings were sealed from public view, court records show.

Russo’s recommendation will be reviewed by US District Judge Marco A. Hernandez, according to the docket. The parties have 14 days to file objections to Russo’s findings.

Class-action status is important in employment cases because it allows workers to pool resources and exert stronger leverage in settlement negotiations. Female engineers at both Twitter Inc. and Microsoft Corp. failed to persuade judges to let their gender-bias cases proceed as class actions and those rulings were upheld on appeal. 

The Nike suit was filed in 2018 by four female employees who claimed the company discriminates against women in several ways, including by relying on their salary history to set their starting pay and failing to stop sexual harassment.

Read More: Pay Gap at Nike Persisted After Changes, Lawsuit Alleges

An attorney representing the plaintiffs estimated when the case was first filed that as many as 500 women could join the suit if it achieved class-action status.

“We respectfully disagree” with the magistrate’s recommendation and plan to appeal, Craig Ackermann, a lawyer for the women, said in an email. 

Representatives of Nike didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case is Cahill v. Nike Inc., 3:18-cv-01477, US District Court, District of Oregon (Portland).

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