The slogan “every kiss begins with Kay” might be souring right about now.
Hundreds of current and former female employees at the parent company of Kay Jewelers and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry, Sterling Jewelers, have filed a private class-action arbitration case against the company, alleging that the middle-of-the-road jewelry giant’s CEO and top executives “fostered rampant sexual harassment and discrimination,” according to documents seen by The Washington Post. The lawsuit includes declarations from roughly 250 men and women who once worked at the company, and represents some 69,000 women who are former and current employees at Sterling.
The case alleges that between the late 1990s and 2000s, female employees at Sterling Jewelers were routinely groped, and pressured to perform sexual favors for their superiors. One declaration in the lawsuit describes annual meetings as a a “sex-fest.” The employees were told the favors would advance their career or protect them from punishment, the lawsuit alleges. Some of the 69,000 are not alleging sexual impropriety, but say women at Sterling are regularly paid less than men in the same position.
A Sterling spokesman told The Post that company officials “have thoroughly investigated the allegations and have concluded they are not substantiated by the facts and certainly do not reflect our culture.”