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Signet Jewelers to Pay $175M in Gender Discrimination Settlement

The class-action suit included 68,000 women.

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Sterling Jewelers, which operates the Jared, Kay and Zales chains, will pay a $175 million settlement in a gender discrimination lawsuit.

The class-action lawsuit, which included 68,000 women, claimed that the company discriminated in terms of compensation and promotions, the Washington Post reports. The suit dates to 2008.

“On behalf of our legal team, we applaud the courage of our clients in the pursuit of this case of singular importance to protecting the rights of women in the workplace,” said Joseph Sellers, of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, lead class counsel. “This settlement provides for significant monetary relief for our clients and ensures that the practices that gave rise to this case will not recur. And we applaud Sterling Jewelers for undertaking important and meaningful changes to its workplace policies, which have moved it forward as a leader in gender equality.”

Salacious details related to allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination within the company, which is part of Signet Jewelers, came to light in media reports, including a 2019 New York Times piece.

The lawsuit’s allegations “were limited to sexual discrimination in pay and promotion, not sexual harassment or assault,” the Washington Post notes. But sworn statements filed as part of the case included claims that women had been “groped, harassed and coaxed into providing sexual favors,” according to the newspaper.

Gina Drosos, CEO of Signet, said in a statement:

For the past four years, we’ve been successfully transforming Signet’s business model and culture. I want to thank our dedicated team members for helping to create our welcoming and inclusive environment where everyone is invited to be their authentic self. We believe prioritizing diversity, equity and inclusion grows high-functioning teams and fosters a culture of appreciation and development. This settlement is an important step in bringing closure to a nearly 15-year-old case. We look forward to continuing our focus on diversity as an important business strategy for Signet, and propelling the innovation, growth, and opportunity that allows our team and company to shine.

The joint statement issued by Signet and the plaintiffs’ attorneys explains that payments to class members will total approximately $125 million. The remainder will go to attorneys’ fees and costs.

The statement continues:

As part of the Company’s transformation in recent years, Signet has made diversity, equity, and inclusion an integral part of its business strategy. Investing in team members to help unleash their full potential has been, and continues to be, key. This includes structuring development programs around Signet’s Leadership Traits to guide store team members who are interested in promotion to manager-level positions. In addition, Signet has discontinued the pay and promotions practices at issue in the lawsuit. Signet also will continue to offer its mentorship programs and leadership training for women, and its robust system for reporting and investigating workplace complaints. Today, Signet has a highly engaged team and is proud to be a Great Place to Work-Certified company, and for the last four consecutive years, listed on the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index.

More information on Signet’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is outlined in its recently released 2022 Corporate Citizenship & Sustainability Report. That report also includes an overview of the opportunities for team members to engage in personal and professional learning and development programs, business resource groups and more.

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Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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