A group of female employees in several states are claiming sex discrimination in a lawsuit against Sterling Jewelers, the largest specialty retail jeweler in the country.
The suit was filed Tuesday in federal court for the Southern District of New York by 15 current and former female employees of the Akron, Ohio-based jewelry retailer who have worked at stores located in New York, Florida, California, Texas, Indiana, Missouri, Massachusetts, Nevada, and New Jersey, according to statement Wednesday by the law firm of Cohen Milstein Hausfeld & Toll, PLLC, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs.
The suit claims Sterling Jewelers “has engaged in a pattern or practice of sex discrimination by denying female retail sales employees equal opportunities to be promoted into and within management jobs, and by paying them less than men performing the same work, at the same levels, in the same stores and at the same time period.”
According to the statement, the suit seeks “fundamental changes to Sterling’s personnel policies, as well as awards of earnings and benefits lost because of discrimination and compensatory and punitive damages.”
“It is outrageous that female employees with similar experience were hired for several dollars per hour less than male employees working in the same job in the same store,” said Sam J. Smith, Burr & Smith, co-lead counsel.
“Sterling treated female employees as second class citizens in their promotion practices as well and gave preferences to men who were significantly less qualified,” added Tallahassee attorney and co-lead counsel Thomas A. Warren.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found reasonable cause on Jan. 3, to believe Sterling subjected its female retail sales employees throughout the company “to a pattern or practice of sex discrimination in regard to promotion and compensation,” according to the statement.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys have established a toll-free number for individuals who have information regarding the allegations or who want information about the lawsuit; that number is 866 854-5152.
Sterling Jewelers Inc. operates approximately 1,400 stores in 50 states and employs more than 21,000 associates. Sterling trades under national brands including, “Kay Jewelers” and “Jared The Galleria of Jewelry,” as well as a variety of regional names. Sterling is the U.S. division of London-based Signet Group plc, making it part of the largest specialty jewelry retailer in the world.
A copy of the Sterling complaint can be found here.