Published on:

Sterling Jewelers Settles With EEOC But Still Faces Class Action By Women Employees

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission just proved it is more interested in fostering real change than fining large corporations.

Sterling Jewelers just settled the lawsuit filed by the EEOC, alleging it discriminates against its female employees, without admitting to having done anything wrong or paying any money to the class of plaintiffs. Instead, Sterling Jewelers (which owns Kay Jewelers and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry, among others) has agreed to hire an independent employment expert who will review employment and promotion practices within the jewelry company.

But Sterling still has to deal with a separate class-action arbitration case in which female employees of the company are accusing Sterling of regularly paying women less than their male counterparts, overlooking women for promotions and other opportunities for advancement, and fostering a work culture in which sexual harassment was the norm.

Signet (which is Sterling’s parent company) is continuing to fight the arbitration claims and said it has already investigated the allegations of sexual harassment on its own without finding anything to back up the allegations.

The attorney representing the class of women in the arbitration case say the settlement with the EEOC does not affect the arbitration case in which his clients are involved, which they are expecting will go to trial next year. He says they intend to not only get justice for the victims of the alleged gender bias at the company, but also force Sterling to make meaningful changes to its employment practices that will help make real improvements to the work environment for all employees of the company.

Because of the private nature of arbitration, it is unlikely the public will ever get to know how that particular case ends, although the settlement agreement with the EEOC is encouraging for women working for the jewelry chain.

How much of an effect either of these cases will have on the massive sales the jewelry company currently makes (more than $6.5 billion annually in the U.S., U.K., and Canada) has yet to be seen. Just the existence of one gender bias lawsuit, much less two, makes the company look bad. But when it’s already a household name and a familiar sight in malls all across North America and the U.K., it’ll take much more than a few negative news articles to have a significant effect on the company’s business.

Most likely, the arbitration case will result in a settlement similar to the one made with the EEOC and business will go on as usual. Hopefully the legal action will encourage women everywhere to stand up for their rights in the workplace, and employers to treat all their workers equally and foster a workplace culture that welcomes everyone and recognizes talent over more superficial features, such as race and gender.

An independent employment expert won’t necessarily solve the problems the class-action arbitration case alleges Signet has, but hopefully it will be a step in the right direction towards changing the attitudes and mindsets of the higher-level executives at Signet and Sterling who allegedly allowed such vile practices to go unchecked.

Our Oak Brook, Illinois consumer rights private law firm handles individual and class action gift card, data breach, privacy rights, deceptive advertising, predatory lending, unfair debt collection, lemon law and other consumer fraud cases that government agencies and public interest law firms such as the Illinois Attorney General may not pursue. Class action lawsuits our law firm has been involved in or spear-headed have led to substantial awards totalling over a million dollars to organizations including the National Association of Consumer Advocatesthe National Consumer Law Center, and local law school consumer programs. The Chicago consumer lawyers at DiTommaso Lubin Austermuehle are proud of our achievements in assisting national and local consumer rights organizations obtain the funds needed to ensure that consumers are protected and informed of their rights. By standing up to consumer fraud and consumer rip-offs, and in the right case filing consumer protection lawsuits and class-actions you too can help ensure that other consumers’ rights are protected from consumer rip-offs and unscrupulous or dishonest practices.

Our Naperville and Schaumburg consumer attorneys provide assistance in data breach, privacy violation, fair debt collection, consumer fraud and consumer rights cases including in Illinois and throughout the country. You can click here to see a description of the some of the many individual and class-action consumer cases our Chicago consumer lawyers have handled. A video of our lawsuit which helped ensure more fan friendly security at Wrigley Field can be found here. You can contact one of our Deer Park and Prospect Heights consumer protection, gift card and data breach attorneys who can assist in consumer fraud, consumer rip-off, lemon law, unfair debt collection, predatory lending, wage claims, unpaid overtime and other consumer, or consumer class action cases by filling out the contact form at the side of this blog or by clicking here.  You can also call our toll free number at (877) 990-4990.