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Signet Refutes Sexual Harassment Claims

Mar 2, 2017 4:08 AM   By Rapaport News
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 Signet Jewelers’ share price fell more than 10 percent this week following a media report on alleged claims of sexual harassment and discrimination at its Sterling Jewelers division.

The Washington Post reported that declarations from roughly 250 women and men who worked at Sterling had been filed as part of a private class-action arbitration case. According to the paper, these declarations alleged routine sexual harassment during the late 1990s and 2000s at Sterling – the company behind Kay Jewelers and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry.

Sterling disputes these allegations.

The sworn statements were written years ago, the Post reported, but employees’ attorneys were only granted permission to release them publicly on Sunday.

In response, Signet said media reports were “distorted and inaccurate” and that none of the 69,000 class-action participants “have brought legal claims in this arbitration for sexual harassment or sexual impropriety.” The case was filed against Sterling in 2008, alleging gender discrimination in pay and promotion, the jeweler said in a statement.

“Since its filing, [the arbitration] has never included legal claims of sexual harassment or hostile work environment discrimination,” the statement read. “The only claims certified to proceed on a class-wide basis relate to alleged gender pay-and-promotions discrimination. Despite years of litigation, millions of pages of documentation and numerous depositions, claimants’ counsel have chosen not to file sexual-harassment claims. These allegations publicized by claimants’ counsel and reported in the media create a distorted, negative image of the company.”

Regarding the allegations of gender discrimination in pay and promotion, Signet said more than 68 percent of its store-management staff were women, and that female participation in management roles at the company was growing.

Signet shares fell 13 percent as the allegations surfaced on Tuesday, causing trading to be suspended briefly. The share price recovered 2 percent on Wednesday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 1.5 percent following U.S. President Donald Trump’s address to Congress.

Signet shares have declined 42 percent from a year ago. The steepest drops occurred in May, when allegations surfaced of diamond swapping at certain Kay stores, and in January following disappointing holiday sales. The company disputed the allegations of diamond swapping.

Signet is due to publish its fourth-quarter and full-year results next week, having forecast a 2-percent to 2.5-percent drop in same-store sales for the year.
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Tags: Jared, Kay Jewelers, Rapaport News, retail, Signet Jewelers, Sterling Jewelers
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