Chloe Tomlinson ’15 Women In Leadership
Discrimination against women in the work place is still extremely prevalent. Twelve women from Sterling Jewelers, the largest specialty retail jeweler in the United States, have come together to file a lawsuit against their employer for the gender discrimination they have suffered over the years. The women state that not only do women receive less pay than the men in the jewelry stores, but many also have reported cases of sexual harassment. If the class is certified, over 44,000 women will potentially be able to join the case and receive compensation for their treatment at work.
One woman said that she was examining the records at her store and found that a newly hired man with no experience was receiving $1.50 an hour more than the woman who was the top-seller. This caused her to further investigate and as she looked deeper she noticed that this was common: women were receiving significantly less pay than the men, even though the women were often more qualified. The women are arguing that the upper management team, which is significantly male-dominated, created an environment that devalued women and their accomplishments.
At Sterling, women do not hold as many high-tier positions as men. Out of the 24 people who have held the position of Vice President for regional operations, only ¼ of them were women.
Sterling has not taken the allegations against harassment and gender discrimination seriously. According to the New York Times, Ms. Souto-Coons was told by her boss to write a complaint about sexual harassment against women in the work place. She then found out a few weeks later that the story was twisted to make it seem not as extreme, and the man who the complaint was filed against was even promoted.
The twelve women who are coming together to file the lawsuit are trying to make a difference for the future of female employees of Sterling. They want to raise awareness about the unfair treatment of women.
This case shows how women who face discrimination in the workplace are uniting and attempting to get justice for the treatment they faced while working at Sterling. The fact that so many women from different branches across the country share similar experiences show that there could be a problem with the values and policies Sterling is enforcing.
It will be interesting to see what comes out of this, and if the case is taken further. Women are still less likely to ask for more money than men and usually do not stand up for themselves in the work place as often as necessary. But these women are showing a lot of courage by pursuing this case and making their grievances public.