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Female employees bring harassment and unequal pay lawsuit against Zales, Kay, Jared

baby monster

Ideal_Rock
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NYT article about the pay-and-promotions lawsuit against Sterling Jewelers Inc, US sub of Signet. I haven't seen any mention of an ongoing lawsuit in an industry publication like National Jeweler or JCK magazine. Glad my money hasn't supported a company that underpays female employees and promotes a culture of sexual harassment.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/23/magazine/kay-jewelry-sexual-harassment.html

...For thousands of women, working at the nation’s largest jewelry retailer meant unequal pay, harassment or worse. Per one of the claimants’ court filings: A store manager, Dean Huffman, said that his regional vice presidents told him that it was “better to hire female employees because the company did not have to pay them as much”; Dave Everton, a regional vice president, told a subordinate, “Why pay women more when they just get pregnant and have families? We need people who are hungry”; John Liebler, another regional vice president, told his subordinates that his wife, a former Sterling employee, was “at home waiting for me where she’s supposed to be.”

...There also doesn’t seem to be a question, even by the company’s own account, that a large amount of harassment was reported at Sterling. Tom Parks, one of five regional human-resources specialists, said in his deposition that he received thousands of calls each year. According to one of the claimants’ expert reports, in 2006 alone, there were 19,321 calls, of which 11,851 involved discrimination complaints; 1,519 were about sexual harassment. When a case is investigated at Sterling, there are a series of steps followed, which conclude in a recommended response from H.R. Parks said that Sterling kept no data on whether recommendations were implemented. The worst part of the wage gap — other than all the other worst parts of the wage gap — is that when there’s a disregard for women, pay disparity is often only a first indicator of the other stuff...


Sterling also ...agreed to pay $11 million to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the New York attorney general’s office to settle charges that it had been opening credit cards for customers without their permission.
 

JPie

Ideal_Rock
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Thanks for posting this. I have never purchased anything from those stores and I certainly won't now.
 

kmoro

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WOW :shock: Wonder if those payouts contributed to the losses noted on the other thread about JA.
Just a note on this ... it shouldn’t. The payouts were not part of JA. Also, they would be reported under a section called “extraordinary items” because it’s not an expense of operations. In addition, they may have already reported the potential expense as a contingent expense when the law suit was filed. The losses would be included with JA’s financials in consolidated statements for a group of companies, if JA is included, but not on the financials for JA itself. (Sorry I can’t help but answer these type of questions ... like a cat can’t resist a string, lol)

In my opinion, this lawsuit and company culture has more to do with the 150 stores being closed than the JA losses. I’m still very curious about that JA loss, lol.

Maybe this also has to do with JA moving away from big dollar customers. Maybe they anticipate the store closures and news of this law suit will drive more mall people to the internet, and those consumers are unlikely to know that JA is part of the same group. That market doesn’t care about diamonds and will spend $3000-5000 on a ring. People spending what they consider big money will always tend to do more research, imo.

Oh well. Those of us spending big dollars (tens of thousands at times) will be happier with other vendors. Hopefully, someone else will get on the fancy cut market with available certificates. I don’t think it would take much for a different company to take JA sales at this point, and if word gets out, Zales, Kay, Jared are all about to take a hit too. Women have a lot to do with their sales, and they’re not going to like this. Good for the other mall stores and the other internet vendors.

Anyone want to start a diamond drop-shipping store with fancy shapes, excellent photography, and online certificates? :lol:
 

the_mother_thing

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@kmoro I meant the parent company losses (as opposed to JA-specifically; was just referencing they were noted in the JA thread). This doesn’t appear to specifically be a JA-problem (like they need another after yanking lab reports), so sorry if I inadvertently inferred that.
 

Johnbt

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Is anyone following the investor fraud lawsuit?

www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-26/signet-jewelers-ordered-by-judge-to-face-investors-fraud-suit

"U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon on Monday denied the Akron, Ohio-based jeweler’s request to dismiss the lawsuit, which was filed by the Public Employees Retirement System of Mississippi."

"Easy credit helped make Signet one of the world’s largest jewelry companies, but as far back as 2016 some analysts said it was pushing the limits of credit and accounting so far that it was looking less like a jewelry business and more like a finance company -- a sort of Money Store of diamonds.

In 2017, Signet began selling off its loan portfolio and disclosed that the New York Attorney General was investigating the company for alleged widespread violations of laws prohibiting deceptive lending practices.

The case is In Re Signet Jewelers Ltd. securities litigation, 16-cv-6728, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York."

__________

Bloomberg ran a piece in 2016 with a great title... (You have to pay to read it. :( )
"Is Signet a Sparkly Empire or a Finance Company?
By
Greg Farrell
February 12, 2016, 10:12 AM EST"

_______________________________

45% subprime loans. So they sold the entire portfolio of loans in 2018 at a loss of $165,000,000 or so. Guess what the stock price did?

From www.blbglaw.com/cases/00312

"Specifically, throughout the Class Period, Signet falsely touted the Company’s financial strength by repeatedly representing that its credit portfolio was a key strategic advantage for the Company, that was very “conservatively managed,” including with “stringent” underwriting practice. However, after years of maintaining these assurances, Signet suddenly revealed in mid-2016 that it had begun a strategic review of its credit portfolio, and worse, had solicited offers to sell the entire credit book. In May 2017, Signet revealed, for the first time, that 45% of portfolio consisted of subprime loans. In March 2018, the Company announced that it had reached an agreement to sell the subprime loans at a substantial discount to the value at which the Company had carried it on its books, resulting in a loss of $165 million to $170 million. As a result of these unexpected disclosures, the price of the Company’s stock plummeted, causing substantial investor losses."
 

Wewechew

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Sounds like a real dumpster fire

If they didn’t already have a bad reputation among jewelry aficionados, they do now.

Signet acquired JA. Wonder if getting acquired changed JA’s company culture.
As much as JA would like to deny it, I don’t see how Signet’s culture didn’t influence these changes in JA.
 

kmoro

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@kmoro I meant the parent company losses (as opposed to JA-specifically; was just referencing they were noted in the JA thread). This doesn’t appear to specifically be a JA-problem (like they need another after yanking lab reports), so sorry if I inadvertently inferred that.
Oh! Sorry for any misunderstanding .... I wasn’t aware of parent company losses ... I only remembered the sudden loss reported by JA in the other thread ... bleh, lol. :oops2:
 

Snowdrop13

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That is really shocking to me. How can so many men in the modern era that we are in now still think that way? And how can a business allow that culture to continue when most other businesses are trying very hard to reverse it? I just read Tiffany’s latest report about gender equality and pay, they are a good example of a business making an effort.
 

Johnbt

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In 20 years they'll be in the modern era and 2019 will be the dark ages. :)

As far as Tiffany or any other company being proud about making an effort, the Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced in Congress in 1921.

It was reintroduced in 1971 and approved by the House and then by the Senate in 1972. That was an exciting era. Hmm, I feel old. :)
 

TreeScientist

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That is really shocking to me. How can so many men in the modern era that we are in now still think that way? And how can a business allow that culture to continue when most other businesses are trying very hard to reverse it? I just read Tiffany’s latest report about gender equality and pay, they are a good example of a business making an effort.
You would be surprised. Even in academia sexual misconduct/assault is still rampant. Many of my female colleagues have been the subject of that "Women belong in the kitchen," good-ol'-boys-club mentality even at the highest ranks of academia. My first PhD advisor was actually "suspended indefinitely" for sexual misconduct allegations from multiple female PhD students.* I obviously didn't know about it before the allegations surfaced. I dropped the program and found a different, much better PhD immediately after the allegations came out, even before he was eventually suspended. I have zero tolerance for that crap, and don't want my name associated with someone like that, even if he was at the top of his field.

The sad thing is that, in pretty much every work environment, women still have to deal with this "Women shouldn't be ambitious or climb to the top" mentality all of the time. My fiancée is in medical school, and prior to meeting her I also lived in a shared house with two female medical students. All three have told me myriad stories of being passed over for opportunities/internships/desirable rotations, which were inevitably given to less qualified men. There's still very much an underlying "Silly women, females should become nurses" mentality among the old guard doctors, particularly in the "manly" fields like surgery and some other specialities. My fiancée hasn't had to deal with this quite as much because she's going into pediatrics, which is one of the "acceptable for females" fields. But the other two female med students I was very close with, who were aiming for ENT and surgery, had to fight tooth and nail to be accepted among those ranks.

All this to say that, whenever I read the most recent sexual assault allegation to hit the news, which always contain the same kind of candid quotes like "at home waiting for me where she’s supposed to be" it doesn't surprise me one bit. I think the only thing that can be done is wait for the prior generations of men at the top to retire and be replaced with the younger generation who have been raised with egalitarian ideals. It's pretty hard to change old people once they're set in their ways. Just gotta wait for them to die off. :mrgreen:

*I should mention that this did not occur in Norway, where I currently live and which is one of the most egalitarian countries in the world, but rather in another European country which will go unmentioned here.
 

bludiva

Brilliant_Rock
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I'm sadly not surprised. I started my career thinking this kind of stuff was from the mad men era but have seen and felt it too many times - pay/promotion discrimination, sexist comments, men behaving inappropriately, peer pressure to be "one of the guys" about it, you name it. The way these issues are handled by companies makes you think these are isolated incidents but they are sadly systemic. The best way to stop it imho is to get more women in leadership positions, culture trickles down whatever is encouraged or tolerated from the top.
 

baby monster

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WOW :shock: Wonder if those payouts contributed to the losses noted on the other thread about JA.
IMHO promoting unqualified people most likely contributed to those losses. How long can a service business run without supporting employees who bring in most sales? Probably for a while but eventually the idiots promoted beyond their abilities run it into the ground.
 

baby monster

Ideal_Rock
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Sounds like a real dumpster fire

If they didn’t already have a bad reputation among jewelry aficionados, they do now.

Signet acquired JA. Wonder if getting acquired changed JA’s company culture.
As much as JA would like to deny it, I don’t see how Signet’s culture didn’t influence these changes in JA.
I would think JA did their due diligence before getting bought out by Signet. The payout must've covered the risk of getting involved with a business that seemingly cheats customers by opening credit cards and putting fraudulent charges on them, cheats investors by understating credit losses in loan portfolio and cheats female employees by underpaying them.
 

WhatAboutTheCats

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I think the only thing that can be done is wait for the prior generations of men at the top to retire and be replaced with the younger generation who have been raised with egalitarian ideals. It's pretty hard to change old people once they're set in their ways. Just gotta wait for them to die off. :mrgreen:
Most younger men (except for incels) aren’t as misogynistic as the dinosaurs, but I wouldn’t assume they’re egalitarian/“woke” as a cohort (see: every frat/athlete scandal ever)

Some talk a good talk until it’s time to walk the talk. Some have very warped ideas of egalitarianism (ie have women contribute equally in $, or in some cases MORE $, but still shoulder the bulk of work at home and take the downsides of the “child penalty” alone).

At least many in the prior generation understood what it means to be a reliable partner and how to share the burdens of life (so I’ve heard from young women dating today). Unfortunately, many guys (and gals who support the status quo) in the up and coming generations still need to be educated in egalitarianism. Perhaps that burden will fall on their future spouse, because the parents, society and educational system aren’t doing the job.

I’m fortunate that DH is one of the great ones :kiss2:

Don’t even get me started on all the weird problems in academia ....
 

Wink

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That is really shocking to me. How can so many men in the modern era that we are in now still think that way? And how can a business allow that culture to continue when most other businesses are trying very hard to reverse it? I just read Tiffany’s latest report about gender equality and pay, they are a good example of a business making an effort.
I grew up in the sixties, joined the Marines, went to war, then was stationed in Brasil for three years. One of my Brasilian girlfriends spoke five languages fluently. She went on to work as a translator for a huge American Computer company, back when there was only one huge American Computer company. Her male coworker at that company, who spoke only two languages, made more than 6X the salary she did. Why, I asked? "Because he is married and has a wife and children at home." This, from an iconic and groundbreaking American company.

I have been many places and have seen the things you are talking about here. But I must stand up and say there are many in my generation who never treated others with inequity. Not gender, nor race, nor religion. Never. Why not?

Because we were taught better by our mothers and fathers.

So while I share snowdrop's shock at such behavior still occurring I place much of the blame on generational parenting. Discrimination, gender or otherwise, is far more than a business ethics issue, it is a societal issue. As it relates to women, I was taught to treat ladies with appropriate respect. I can assure you that my wife would never have put up with some ninny who didn’t treat her correctly. We taught our son to treat others with respect, which he does. We taught my daughter to demand respect from those she works with. She does, and she has risen high in an very competitive career.

These stories will only disappear if parents teach their children correctly. Company policies are a reflection of those in charge. It’s much, much harder to “re-teach” middle-aged people raised by parents who taught them to discriminate, than to simply raise a child with a foundation of love and equal treatment for all.

Tree Scientist may be correct about an expiration date for “intolerant generations.” Executives coming from younger generations will need to take note, which I do believe is happening. But erasing these generational attitudes will not always be smooth, and certainly will not be easy. It’s my hope that I get to witness an end to this kind of story.

Wink
 

TreeScientist

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“woke”
honey-can-you-go-see-if-the-baby-is-sleeping-14200148.png

Generation Z gonna be woke AF. :mrgreen:

These stories will only disappear if parents teach their children correctly. Company policies are a reflection of those in charge. It’s much, much harder to “re-teach” middle-aged people raised by parents who taught them to discriminate, than to simply raise a child with a foundation of love and equal treatment for all.
My point exactly. It obviously starts with the parents setting a good example of what male/female relationships should entail, and it continues with making sure the educational material, media, and overall layout of society are all based on egalitarian ideals. Best way to teach kids how they should behave and conduct themselves is by example.
 

MissStepcut

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Lots of people who were raised right still indulge themselves in racism, misogyny, and bigotry of all kinds. The imagined superiority and abuse of power must feel good.
 

bludiva

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Generation Z gonna be woke AF. :mrgreen:
Sadly not sure that is true. Ask the millenial brogrammers enjoying the perks of a system that predominantly hires and invests in young white guys. Change is slow, even when it is deliberate.
 

yssie

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Sadly not sure that is true. Ask the millenial brogrammers enjoying the perks of a system that predominantly hires and invests in young white guys. Change is slow, even when it is deliberate.
My other half was passsed over twice for alternative candidates who were notably less-qualified, less well-spoken, and less personable.

The reason was clearly that he was a young white male and they were female minorities - both companies later featured these other individuals in diversity profiles.

Change is slow.

Knee-jerk responses like “affirmative action” regulations, quotas, and interview candidate diversity requirements do nothing to fix the underlying problems.

Change is slow.
 

MissStepcut

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My law firm has also made an intentional effort to hire and promote minority women, because the fact of institutional racism and sexism is obvious when you look at our ranks.

And yes. It is fixing the underlying problems. The problem that there are not enough women and minority women in power. The problem that it’s hard to hire more minorities and women when they look at our leadership, which puts us in an even worse position. The problem that our young women and minority lawyers don’t have confidence that the firm will give them a fair shake when it’s their turn for promotion, so they tend to quit.
 

kb1gra

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This might be industry specific but hiring people who aren’t qualified just because they are a female or a minority, then promoting unqualified people because they are a female or a minority, fixes nothing about the American workplace culture.

My husband is always after me to apply at his employer, who can’t find enough qualified staff of any race, creed, or gender to fill gaps, but must hire a certain number minority or female to meet government contract requirements and therefore takes any female or minority applicant they come across. He is 100% sure I could get any job I applied for there because I am a woman with a science background. I so far have refused to apply because I don’t want to get a job on the basis solely that I check a checkbox on some report.

This is off the subject of abusive practices by Signet, but sometimes the whole “empower women in the workplace!” thing becomes a schtick that just gets old. I’m good at what I do which is why I have the job I have and initiatives like this also just encourage people to feel that women didn’t earn the jobs they have.
 

bludiva

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Token hires will not fix systemic issues. There is a really good case study on the steps Deloitte took to address gender bias in order to strengthen their talent pool. It was slow, difficult, and deliberate work that took years to filter through.
 

yssie

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My law firm has also made an intentional effort to hire and promote minority women, because the fact of institutional racism and sexism is obvious when you look at our ranks.

And yes. It is fixing the underlying problems. The problem that there are not enough women and minority women in power. The problem that it’s hard to hire more minorities and women when they look at our leadership, which puts us in an even worse position. The problem that our young women and minority lawyers don’t have confidence that the firm will give them a fair shake when it’s their turn for promotion, so they tend to quit.
I agree that institutionalized -isms are rampant. I’m an engineer, he’s an engineer, there are a lot more faces like him in any room - or on any interview panel, or at any conference - than like mine!

But I think at the end of the day hiring and promoting overtly less-qualified people over more-qualified people only achieves three things:
1. It means the company that made that choice has a less-qualified person doing that job. It means the job doesn’t get done as well as it could, which ultimately impacts company talent pool and corporate bottom line.
2. It means that people learn to question all minorities and women who climb the career ladder - “did she|she get there because she’s|he’s actually qualified?”
3. It means that people who are passed over have justifiable resentment toward this new flavour of institutionalised discrimination, and women and minorities who do “earn their spots” have justifiable resentment toward having to work extra hard to prove to their teammates/management/subordinates that they weren’t token hires.

Fixing meaningless, nonsensical inequality with more meaningless, nonsensical equality is not the answer, but it’s the direction most employers have gone :(sad ditto @kb1gra and @bludiva , who expressed my sentiment more clearly than I did.
 
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MissStepcut

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Sorry I just don’t agree. Lots of pitifully qualified people get jobs and promotions because they’re well-liked, good at office politics, have a client for a brother-in-law... Meritocracy has always been a myth. And companies have also always done fine even when not the very most technically qualified person got the job. If things now tilt in favor of the kinds of people who used to get screwed by hiring “soft factors,” huzzah for that.
 

yssie

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Sorry I just don’t agree. Lots of pitifully qualified people get jobs and promotions because they’re well-liked, good at office politics, have a client for a brother-in-law... Meritocracy has always been a myth. And companies have also always done fine even when not the very most technically qualified person got the job. If things now tilt in favor of the kinds of people who used to get screwed by hiring “soft factors,” huzzah for that.
I’m honestly lost for words. Mostly lost for words - “disgusted” jumps to the tip of the tongue.

My grandfather and father were victims of this sort of “reverse discrimination” - they were Brahmins living in India at a time when non-Brahmins were determined to extract payment from the current generation of Brahmins for the sins of their ancestors.

My husband has been a victim of this sort of “reverse discrimination” - he is a white Jewish engineer who entered the US workforce just over a decade ago.

I’m very, very glad I’ve never worked with or for anyone with your philosophies. Blaming the child for the sins of his fathers has worked so well in the past... I certainly expected more from a lawyer than this petty short-sightedness.

I’m bowing out of this thread.
 
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