Justice

Sexual Discrimination Class-Action Lawsuit Against a Major Jewelry Company

September 15th 2016

By:
Almie Rose

Signet Jewelers is probably not a household name, but you've likely heard of Zales, Jared's, or Kay Jewelers, which are owned by Signet Jewelers.

 

A photo posted by Kay Jewelers (@kayjewelers) on

Also in the Signet Jewelers family is Sterling Jewelers, a division of Signet, and Sterling Jewelers is starting to make headlines for a less glamorous reason than jeweler. Sterling Jewelers is facing a major class-action sexual discrimination lawsuit which, at the very least, is sure to put a damper on your engagement ring shopping experience.

About the class-action lawsuit.

This all started in 2008, when a dozen female employees of Sterling retailers sued the company alleging sexual discrimination. It has since grown into a class-action lawsuit representing thousands of women. Now they're finally getting their day in court; their trial begins next month, Business Insider reports.

 

A photo posted by Zales (@zalesjewelers) on

Participants in the lawsuit range from sales associates to store managers, all women. If Sterling loses, they will be "required to pay substantial damages" according to a report to their shareholders.

"We have taken the allegations of pay and promotions discrimination raised in this case seriously and investigated them thoroughly; they are not substantiated by the facts and do not reflect the culture of our company," Signet said in an emailed statement to ATTN:. "We will continue to defend the company against these unjustified legal claims, which misrepresent our deep commitment to, and history of, equal opportunity."

"Sterling stands by its core values of fairness, opportunity, integrity and respect," the statement continued. "We have created strong career opportunities for many thousands of women working at our stores nationwide. As a result of our employment and advancement programs, as well as our culture, the great majority of our store management staff — more than 7 in 10 of our assistant managers and 6 in 10 of our store managers — are female."

About the allegations.

The main two points raised by the plaintiffs are that as women, they were paid less than their male colleagues and they were also treated "as little more than sexual opportunities to exploit."

Some grim details from their motion, via Business Insider:

"This behavior includes frequent references to women in sexual and vulgar ways; groping and grabbing women; soliciting sexual relations with women, sometimes as a quid pro quo for employment benefits; creating an environment at often mandatory company events in which women are expected to undress publicly, accede to sexual overtures and refrain from complaining about the abusive treatment to which they have been subjected. It has even included sexual assault and rape."

Attorney Joseph M. Sellers of Cohen Milstein, who is representing the women, declined to comment at this time.

This isn't the only blemish on Signet's record.

Kay Jewelers has come under fire lately from angry customers who claimed the diamonds in their engagement rings were replaced with lesser diamonds.

In part of a statement sent to ATTN:, Kay Jewelers told us, " ... we take customer concerns very seriously and view even one issue as unacceptable. We are actively reviewing the issues noted in this piece, as we do all concerns brought to our attention."

[h/t Business Insider]