Around 250 former female and male employees of Sterling Jewelers, which operates Kay and Jared Jewlery, claim they endured years of sexual harassment during their time with the company, USA Today reports.
Sterling Jewelers is one largest jewelry companies in the nation. The Washington Post obtained documents involved in the long-running arbitration case against Sterling.
"These documents suggest a culture that allowed and even encouraged sexual discrimination at every level. The circumstances described by current and former employees are terribly demeaning to women, not just because they were mistreated but because they saw their co-workers treated as sexual objects, too,” Joe Sellers, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said.
The documents allege that female employees were harassed, groped and encouraged to have sex with their superiors in exchange for promotions and job security.
The declarations were a part of the private class-action arbitration case filed in 2008.
The case includes 69,000 current and former female employees of Sterling. David Bouffard, vice president of Signet Corporate Affairs, the parent company to Sterling, said in a statement that “the arbitration matter contains no legal claims of sexual harassment.”
"We have thoroughly investigated the allegations and have concluded they are not substantiated by the facts and certainly do not reflect our culture," he continued.
Sellers said the conduct is “consistent with the evidence in this case that women were systematically paid less than men, even while performing more highly than men, and received fewer promotions that they should have.”