Sterling Jewelers Accused of Rampant Sexual Harassment, Report Says
Sterling Jewelers Inc. is being accused by hundreds of former employees of fostering an atmosphere of “rampant sexual harassment and discrimination,” according to a bombshell Washington Post report. The class-action arbitration case includes 69,000 current and former female employees, and includes statements from more than 250 former employees alleging a culture of harassment over two decades starting in the 1990s. Not all 69,000 women are alleging harassment, but many accuse the company of sexual bias, wage discrimination and being unfairly passed over for promotions. The original complaint went to arbitration in 2008, but it was not until Sunday that the sworn testimony was released publicly.
Total Retail’s Take: These accusations from former employees could spell trouble for Signet. According to the Post, statements alleged everything from mocking women’s bodies to coercing female employees into sex by offering them pay raises to “preying parties” where women were aggressively groped and harassed. While Sterling has denied the accusations — and said the allegations were made by a “very small number of individuals” designed to paint a “negative and distorted” picture of the company — the company can expect to face substantial damages if it loses the case.
Melissa Campanelli is Editor-in-Chief of Total Retail. She is an industry veteran, having covered all aspects of retail, tech, digital, e-commerce, and marketing over the past 20 years. Melissa is also the co-founder of the Women in Retail Leadership Circle.