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Class action discrimination suit filed against jewelry company

New Yorkers are sometimes the victims of sexual harassment and discrimination at their workplaces. A class action claim involving more than 69,000 workers in a private arbitration against Sterling Jewelry Co. demonstrates how pervasive sexual harassment and discrimination can be in some workplace cultures.

According to reports, the attorneys involved in the arbitration agreed to the release of some redacted documents from the longstanding case. The earliest claim in the case dates back to 2008. The matter is being handled through arbitration because of pre-employment agreements to arbitrate claims that were signed by the employees. Arbitration is normally private, so it is unclear why the lawyers agreed to the release of the documents.

The complainants have alleged numerous lurid and shocking details against the company, which is the parent of national chain stores Jared's Galleria of Jewelry, Zales and Kay Jewelers. Plaintiffs have alleged that the company had a pervasive culture in which sexual harassment flourished. This included demanding sexual favors in exchange for advancement, groping, touching and annual, booze-fueled parties in which attendees were encouraged to sexually perform by their superiors. The sexual harassment claims are not part of the larger class action lawsuit and instead involve 250 women and men who allege that they were demeaned and groped by their superiors at the annual parties.

The complainants also allege that they were subjected to differing treatment according to gender. The sheer size of the case demonstrates how pervasive sexual harassment and discrimination can be within companies. Victims of sexual harassment may be afraid to complain because of fears of losing their jobs. They may want to consult with employment law attorneys about what they can do and what their rights are in their particular matters.

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