Sterling Jewelers is coming under fire this week as about 250 former employees of Jared the Galleria of Jewelry and Kay Jewelers claim to have been sexually harassed by the company’s leaders in return for promotion or job security.
Court documents obtained by The Washington Post suggest female employees in the late 1990s and 2000s were “routinely groped, demeaned, and urged to sexually cater to their bosses to stay employed.”
It’s even said the top tier leaders would have “scouting” parties to hunt down attractive employees and “boozy, no-spouses allowed” managers meetings that were described as a “sex-fest.”
A former Kay employee said of the company’s culture:
“Looking back, I can’t believe I did some of the things I had to do. You suck it up and do what you have to do for your family. You need this job.”
“I didn’t like being alone, anywhere. I used to dread going [to the meetings]. If you were even remotely attractive or outgoing, which most salespeople are, you were meat, being shopped. It was like nobody knew right from wrong, and there was nobody trying to show anybody right from wrong. There was no discipline. There was no consequence. You were on your own.”
The class-action suit started back in 2008 with only a dozen signatures — but has now grown to include over 69,000 current and former women employees.
Although Sterling Jewelers denies the allegations, spokesperson David Bouffard told USA Today:
“The arbitration matter contains no legal claims of sexual harassment. The only claims certified to proceed on a class-wide basis relate to alleged unintentional gender pay and promotions discrimination. Despite years of litigation, millions of pages of documentation and numerous depositions, claimants’ counsel have chosen not to proceed with sexual harassment claims. These allegations are being publicized by claimants’ counsel to present a distorted, negative image of the company.”
We will certainly keep you updated as we learn more — but in the meantime, you can read more shocking details about this huge case HERE.
[Image via Kay Jewelers/Facebook.]