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Sterling Takes Gender-Bias Case to Supreme Court

Jeweler appeals earlier rulings that empowered an arbitrator to certify class-action proceedings.
Feb 3, 2020 9:53 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... Sterling Jewelers has asked the US Supreme Court to reverse a lower-court ruling allowing an arbitrator to decide whether the company underpaid more than 70,000 women in a class action gender-bias case.

The case alleges that Sterling — the division of Signet Jewelers that oversees Kay Jewelers and Jared — failed to provide proper pay equity and equal-opportunity promotions to female employees. It has dragged out since 2008.

The company is now taking the case to the highest authority, appealing the decisions of two lower courts that empowered the arbitrator to certify class action proceedings.

Those decisions go against Sterling’s employment agreements since the company doesn’t specifically stipulate that it allows claims for class arbitration in its workers’ contract, Sterling argued in a January 21 appeal.

The company also cited a precedent made in a recent class action, which determined that only those who actively ask for arbitration can be brought into a class action and it cannot include others who did not vocalize their wishes. Only a few hundred of the 70,000 women included in the class arbitration specifically asked to join.

A large class action could expose Signet to greater liability than it would face were the women forced to arbitrate individually.

“We believe the claims in this matter are without merit and are not substantiated by the relevant facts and statistics,” a Sterling spokesperson told Rapaport News. “We will continue to vigorously defend against these claims, as they do not accurately reflect our company or our culture.”

Image: A Kay Jewelers store in New York. (Shutterstock)
Tags: gender-bias, Jared, kay, Rapaport News, Signet Jewelers, sterling, Sterling Jewelers, zales
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