We have all heard the slogan “Every kiss begins with Kay”. In light of the substantial class action lawsuit filed against the parent company of Kay Jewelers and Jared Jewelry citing unwanted sexual advances and wage and promotion discrimination, that slogan seems a bit ironic.
Class Action Lawsuit Details
The lawsuit was originally filed in 2008 after more than 200 women came forward with statements that Sterling Jewelers, Inc. violated the Civil Rights Act and Equal Pay Act. Since that time, the class action lawsuit has grown to include at least 69,000 former and current employers with claims dating back to the 1990’s.
The plaintiffs all share similar stories alleging pay discrimination, being passed over for promotions, being publicly demeaned, and in many cases, enduring sexual improprieties. Hired as low- or entry-level employees, many of the plaintiffs claim that they were prohibited from discussing wages, but came to find out through informal conversation that they made significantly less than their male coworkers in the same positions.
One female employee stated that, after promotion to store manager, she “noticed a pattern” of male associates being hired with wages around $1 more per hour than female associates in the same position. Another female employee was hired at $9.50 per hour, but was later told by a male employee in the same position that he was hired at $12.50 per hour.
Deviant and Sexual Claims
To further support the claims of discriminatory and unsettling work environment, numerous plaintiffs further allege sexual impropriety among male employees and executives. One employee detailed how one company executive would request certain female employees go out drinking and dancing the night before he visited the retail location. Because he was visiting the store the next day, employees were urged by their superior to go out so the visit would go well.
Other plaintiffs claim that there was an atmosphere of “Good Old Boy” culture among Sterling executives. The male executives would support and defend one another. Women who rose in the ranks of management report being subject to gatherings where alcohol use was heavy and male executives made passes at their female subordinates.
After one such management meeting, a female manager was approached by a male superior who tried to touch and kiss her. She reported the incident to human resources, but no action was taken against the man. She, however, was fired a short time after the report was filed.
It is only right and fair to note that not all male employees and executives of Sterling, Kay, and Jared behaved in such a deviant manner. In fact, some male employees have also spoken out about their own experiences witnessing wage discrimination and sexual comments. Due to the large number of claims, the lengthy period of time in which the alleged incidents occurred, and the fact that Sterling, Kay, and Jared did not make attempts to remedy situations where reports were made, attorneys for the plaintiffs are confident at proving a “lack of real concern about discrimination”.
Have Questions about Discrimination or Labor and Employment Law?
If you have questions about your rights as an employee – including labor and employment law, wages, or discrimination – contact Daic Law today. We can help you understand your rights and fight for justice if you have experienced the devastating effects of sexual harassment, wage discrimination, or any other violation of your Civil Rights. To schedule your initial consultation, fill out our Online Form, or call us at (713) 808-5246.