Hundreds Accuse Jewelry Firm of Sexual Harassment

Andrew Cummings
March 1, 2017

Documents from the 2008 class-action suit, which is still ongoing, were only released Sunday on the condition that names of Sterling executives be redacted. Sworn statements from about 250 women are part of an arbitration move involving Sterling Jewelers, which operates Kays Jewelers and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry.

According to the employees' declarations, Sterling encouraged a discriminatory atmosphere for decades spanning the 1990s through the early 2000s and condoned acts of sexual harassment which included groping, verbal abuse, and suggestions to perform sexual favors for higher-ups in exchange for job security.

It's critical to understand that an arbitration claim was brought against Sterling in 2008 that alleged gender discrimination in pay and promotion.

While the case originally revolved around gender discrimination, it has grown to include some 69,000 former and current employees and issues including wage theft, sexual harassment, and gender payment gaps.

The allegations read like the stuff of frat-house nightmares, including charges that senior management sent out "scouting parties" to stores in order to find women that the toxic douchebags at the company's Akron, Ohio headquarters might want to sleep with, openly making comments about the mostly female sales staffs' bodies and pressuring them into sex while they were there.

Women who issued sworn statements in 2012 said that the company forbade discussion of pay among employees, which made it hard for underpaid women to gauge whether they were being treated fairly.

While she worked her way up to manager, she tells the Post that she began to witness and experience sexual harassment.

She says at a work conference a male superior followed her into her hotel room and made sexual advances.

For example, she claims that in 2005 a district manager promised to transfer her to a new store if she had sex with him.

The Post reports that employees who tried to report the misconduct often faced retaliation instead of help.

"These allegations publicized by claimants' counsel and reported in the media create a distorted, negative image of the company", Signet said. She detailed the incident on an internal hotline - and days later was accused of stealing from her store and fired. Complaints that were reported to the company were thoroughly investigated, and action was taken where appropriate.

The litigants seek punitive damages and back pay, although no dollar estimate was given.

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