Jeweler company under fire for sexual harassment allegations

FILE

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FILE

Signet Jewelers, the parent company of Sterling Jeweler, is under fire for sexual harassment allegations.

A petition by Care2 is demanding the firing of Mark Light, the chief executive officer of Signet, following allegations of sexual harassment and discrimination at Sterling-owned stores. Sterling is responsible for brands like Kay Jewelers and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry.

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The petition states an arbitration was filed in 2008, and is still unresolved. Approximately 69,000 women who are current or former employees are included in the arbitration.

“We cannot let CEO Mark Light get away with his role in condoning sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination,” said Care2 petition author Lacey Kohlmoos. “It appears that every non-consensual kiss begins with Kay.”

The arbitration alleges that top male managers would hold “scouting parties” to scope out what female employees they wanted to have sexual relations with. They’re also accusing management of “pushing female subordinates into sex by promising them better jobs, higher pay or protection from punishment.”

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The company has responded by saying media reports were “distorted and inaccurate.”

A company statement said none of the 69,000 class members have brought legal claims in this arbitration for sexual harassment or sexual impropriety. "Since its filing, it has never included legal claims of sexual harassment or hostile work environment discrimination," the statement said.

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"The only claims certified to proceed on a class wide basis relate to alleged gender pay and promotions discrimination. Despite years of litigation, millions of pages of documentation and numerous depositions, claimants' counsel have chosen not to file sexual harassment claims. These allegations publicized by claimants' counsel and reported in the media create a distorted, negative image of the company."

The company also said more than 68 percent of the store management staff are female employees.

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