(Photo Credit: LaertesCTB/Flickr)
Sterling Jewelers owns more than 1,300 jewelry stores across the 50 states. These stores have at least 12 name brand chains, including the well-known Jared and Kay retail stores.
Sixteen women who work or have worked for the chain filed a class-action arbitration complaint alleging gender discrimination. There is a clause in Sterling's employment contract stipulating that complaints go to arbitration, rather than go to court. The women worked at different locations and chains across the country, and in different capacities. In other words, the alleged gender discrimination is Sterling-wide, and not isolated in just one or two stores.
The complainants allege that Sterling has prevented women from getting promotions by not advertising vacancies. Hiring managers were to quietly recruit those they wanted to promote. The workers say that those who were promoted were often men who had worked for Sterling for less time than their female counterparts. More importantly, there was no merit-based guidance or policy in place to help hiring mangers choose those fit for promotion. Therefore, hiring managers were free to promote based upon their personal stereotypes and preferences, regardless of merit.
Routinely and across the country in Sterling stores, women are paid less than men for the same work, done at the same time, in the same area and at the same levels. Slate details some of the egregious examples, including:
- A store manager who was paid $20,000 per year less than her husband, also a store manager. They both had the same credentials and experience; and
- Female sales associates making $8.50 per hour to their male equivalents' $11.50 per hour.
Of course, workplaces that devalue women by underpaying them find other ways to devalue them, such as sexual harassment. Female employees say they were subjected to inappropriate comments about their bodies from higher-paid, male managers. You know, the ones that got the promotion that wasn't based upon merit.
Every kiss should begin with equality. Maybe he shouldn't go to Jared.
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