A lot of women, who worked for the largest US jewelry retail company, are alleging that they suffered from promotion and wage discrimination and about 200 of them described the working atmosphere at the company as an atmosphere where female employees endure sexual advances from the male superiors of the company.
Statements came up where former and current women workforce of another jeweler under the same parent company as Jared Jewelry and Kay Jewelers, Sterling Jewelers Inc. described the atmosphere of secrecy in pay where men had powerful positions and qualified women being publicly demeaned or passed over for promotions in some cases.
Female employees said that the Sterling executives and managers grabbed them from their bodies without their consent, kissed them, gave them sex propositions and spoke about their bodies and sex during company events.
249 statements, mostly by women, were sworn statements collected due to a class action lawsuit against the company filed in 2008, which alleged the violation of Civil Rights Act and Equal Pay Act. The sexual improprieties allegations were offered to show the context of the workplace where the pay discrimination occurred.
About 69,000 former and current employees, who were affected by this promotion and wage discrimination, are covered under this suit, which dated back to as early as 1990s. 10,000 women filed documentation of pay discrimination, according to the attorney who is handling this suit.
As this suit is tried by arbitration, as opposed to public trial where there is a judge or a jury, most of the case information is kept on the down low till now.
After a request by The Washington Post, a judge had ordered to release more than 1300 pages of the sworn statements on Sunday.
These statements showed that women were mostly hired as employees at lower levels at Jared and Kay stores and were not allowed to discuss wages, but via informal conversations, they found out that men who were doing the same work were payed higher.
For example, Timeen Adair, who worked from 1992 to 2009 at Sterling, said that she had found out that her pay was less than a man working in the same position. She complained about her manager and was promoted eventually.
When she got promoted to store manager, she saw a pattern where the female sales associates were payed $1 an hour less than their male counterparts.
Kalpana Kotagal, the class counsel on this case, said that the unwanted advances sexually are relevant to this claim of gender discrimination as they point a clear culture of intimidation in the sexual sense at the company. This evidence clearly shows sexual discrimination at the company and therefore the pay is also discriminated.