Many behaviors in the workplace could be considered to be against the law in Missouri and elsewhere around the country. Workplace discrimination occurs when an employee is treated unfairly because of their age, race, gender, nationality, religion or disability. When such discrimination is suspected, employees sometimes come together to protest a company’s behavior in a lawsuit. Kay Jewelers has recently come under fire for suspected wage and promotion discrimination, as well as alleged sexual improprieties.
Thousands of current and former employees have filed a lawsuit against the jewelry company that claims women were frequently passed over for promotions and men were mostly the ones in positions of power. The pattern of discrimination is said to have dated back to the early 1990s. In addition, over 200 employees alleged that the company was in violation of the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act. As part of a federal class-action lawsuit, the employees claim pay discrimination took place in the context of sexual improprieties.
The case is not being tried with a judge and jury, but rather through arbitration. Recently released documents show that lower-level employees were not allowed to discuss their wages. However, many women soon realized they were making much less money than men doing comparable work. In fact, women were routinely offered less pay than men when they were initially hired by the company for the same jobs.
One store manager details a pattern of sexually aggressive behavior exhibited by the company’s executives. Certain women were asked to socialize with members of management and were afraid to refuse in fear of losing their jobs. Unwanted terms of endearment were frequently directed toward women in the workplace, but many ignored the behavior to protect their positions. Unwelcome physical contact was allegedly made by several managers and executives. The lawsuit alleges that the company’s human resources department was made aware of some of the behaviors, but did not take action.
Workplace discrimination may occur at a corporate level, as witnessed in the case of Kay Jewelers. However, this type of discrimination can also happen to an individual or small group of employees. No matter how widespread the discrimination is, the victims of this type of behavior need to understand their legal rights. A Missouri attorney experienced in employment law can help victims of workplace discrimination file a lawsuit and seek appropriate compensation.
Source: npr.org, “Parent Company Of Kay Jewelers Accused Of Wage Discrimination Against Women“, Rebecca Hersher, March 1, 2017