Employment Law Blog

Parent Corporation of Kay Jewelers and Jared’s Hit With Class Action by Female Employees Alleging Widespread Violations of Pay and Promotion Laws



Sterling Jewelers, the parent company of nationwide jewelry store chains Kay Jewelers and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry, has come under fire for what many current and former female company employees describe as a corporate culture of rampant unequal pay and promotion practices.  A group of nearly 69,000 female employees have joined together in a class action arbitration proceeding against the company.  As reported in February 28th and March 6th articles in the New York Times, sworn declarations from hundreds of the female employees were recently released, the details of which are shocking.  For instance, some female employees allege they were unable to receive promotions that were routinely available to male employees without resorting to behavior such as sleeping with a male manager.  Another common behavior was that male security guards at the jewelry stores would wave security wands across the women’s chests or buttocks and then make lewd comments.  To add insult to injury, despite the fact the company had set up a purportedly anonymous complaint line which employees could use to report sexual harassment or other troublesome behaviors, the female employees who did utilize the “anonymous” hotline to report sexual harassment recalled they received telephone calls from the Human Resources representatives shortly thereafter scolding them for making a report.

Sterling’s Response to the Allegations

The company is fighting back by denying the allegations and has forced the case into an arbitration proceeding.  The company also claims that it has made promotions available to female  employees through the use of a company program that allowed employees to put their names on a list for those who wished to be considered for a promotion.  The plaintiffs claim this list was simply a farce and no females who added their names were actually promoted.

Prohibited Pay and Promotion Practices under Federal and California State Law

Federal law protects United States citizens from discrimination in the workplace pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII).  Title VII forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including pay and promotions as well as sexual harassment.  California’s Equal Pay Act requires that employees be paid  equally for “substantially similar work, when viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility.”  The recently passed California Fair Pay Act also prohibits employers from relying on an employee’s prior salary to justify a disparity between the salaries of similarly situated employees of differing genders.

Contact the Hekmat Law Group if You Have Been The Victim of Unequal Pay or Promotion Practices in California

Many California employees are subjected to violations of the state and federal laws prohibiting a disparity in pay and promotion between male and female employees like those alleged in the Sterling Jewelers class action arbitration proceeding discussed above.  The experienced employee rights lawyers of the Hekmat Law Group have extensive experience representing employees who have been denied equal pay or promotions on the basis of their gender in violation of California and/or federal law.  If you have been denied equal pay or a promotion in violation of federal or California state law, contact us at 424-888-4LAW to discuss your legal options today.