New York residents who shop at stores such as Kay Jewelers or Zales may be interested to learn that Sterling Jewelers, the parent company of those retailers, is facing a class-action sexual harassment arbitration case according to the Washington Post. The class includes 69,000 current and former female workers in addition to statements from 250 former employees outlining an alleged culture of sexual harassment over two decades.
While the case went to arbitration in 2008, over 1,300 pages of testimony were not made public until the night of Feb. 26. Not all of the 69,000 class members are alleging that they were sexually harassed. However, they are making claims of wage discrimination and gender bias. Some are also making claims that they were unfairly passed over for promotions. According to the Post report, male store managers would coerce female employees into having sex in exchange for pay raises or promotions.
At an annual managers outing, it was alleged that male managers would grope and aggressively pursue female managers. The outing was described as a “sex-fest” where alcohol was consumed in large quantities. According to statements made by female workers, those who complained were punished, and one claimed that she was accused of theft and terminated after making a complaint. Sterling denied the allegations and said that they did not reflect the company’s culture.
Those who lost a job or were assigned to work unfavorable hours after making a compliant of harassment in the workplace may wish to talk to an attorney. Legal counsel may be able to review employment records or employer statements to establish that harassment or discrimination occurred. If an employee is retaliated against by an employer, he or she may be entitled to compensation and reinstatement to his or her job.