The US was once considered the El Dorado. But now, with people coming out to talk about ‘taboo’ topics, it has become obvious that the workforce in the US is as vulnerable to pay discrimination and sexual harassment as their counterparts in third-world countries. Signet Jewellers Ltd has announced a $175 million settlement of long-running gender bias litigation.
By this act, the Bermuda-based company resolved claims on behalf of 68,000 female Sterling Jewellers employees that the retailer paid women less and promoted them less often than men. The settlement helped the company avert individual claims by women employees.
Amidst gender pay bias claims, the company is also facing charges of sexual harassment, though the company denies both charges. Sterling’s brands include Kay Jewellers and Jared. While it denied both charges, it took a $190 million pre-tax charge for settlement, which requires a private arbitrator’s approval.
Though the settlement mainly focused on pay and promotions between 2004 and 2018, mostly for sales associates, the case drew attention after some female Sterling employees submitted sworn statements that they had been sexually harassed.
Joseph Sellers, a lawyer for the women from Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, said that the settlement would create a ripple effect in the industry. In the past, Sterling was sued in 2008 and was accused of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the federal Equal Pay Act.
Of the settlement money, about $125 million would go to class members, with the rest covering the legal fees and costs.