Heather Ballou, a former store manager at Kay Jewelers who is part of the arbitration case, started working for Sterling in 2000 as a sales associate in Pensacola, Florida and was promoted internally to different stores until she was eventually terminated as a store manager in 2009.
Signet Jewelers (SIG) shares plunged Tuesday following media reports that female employees at two subsidiaries of the company allege they were subjected to sexual misconduct and discrimination by senior workers.
The women who made the sworn depositions worked at stores from Nevada to MA to Florida.
It's even said the top tier leaders would have "scouting" parties to hunt down attractive employees and "boozy, no-spouses allowed" managers meetings that were described as a "sex-fest".
Shares of Signet Jewelers have dropped 9.5% to $65.93 at 12:54 p.m., more than a percentage point lower than when its stock was halted. "They involve a very small number of individuals in a workforce of more than 84,000 during the class period, and many of allegations go back decades". Bouffard added that the company encourages all employees to report any workplace concerns so officials can investigate and respond appropriately. The arbitration case exclusively focuses on whether those women have suffered discrimination in pay and promotions, it said.
"The arbitration matter contains no legal claims of sexual harassment".
The company also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Tuesday, February 28th. One, from a nine-year Sterling manager, did so directly. "You need your human resources people, if they get a complaint about a high-powered executive, to empower the people who are in charge of investigating the complaint to do the right thing".
Names of managers and executives were redacted by Signet in the sworn statements that were made public this week.
But the attorneys for the employees argue that the sex harassment claims are critical to the case because they describe a corporate culture in which women were undervalued or demeaned.
Numerous most striking allegations stem from the company's annual managers meetings, which former employees described as a boozy, no-spouses-allowed "sex-fest" where attendance was mandatory and women were aggressively pursued, grabbed and harassed.
In addition to the class action being handled through arbitration, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit, also in 2008, against Sterling, alleging wage discrimination on the basis of gender.
Perhaps most damning is the allegation that Mark Light, who is now CEO of Sterling owner Signet Jewelers, participated in the culture of sexual harassment and had sex with subordinates in exchange for favors.