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Male customer in jewelry store.
If "he went to Jared," there was discrimination on the sales floor, according to a lawsuit.
A group of 16 women who've worked for Sterling Jewelers have filed a class action suit for pay discrimination, and it sounds like a doozy. Sterling, the parent company of familiar names like Jared the Galleria of Jewelry and Kay Jewelers, allegedly engaged in widespread and not at all subtle discrimination, as well as tolerating sexual harassment:
Of the 16, 13 say they were paid less than men with the same or lower qualifications, 13 say promotions were doled out to less qualified men, and six experienced sexual harassment, with many experiencing multiple challenges at least two having experienced all three.

At one Belden Jewelers store in Massena, New York, four different women in the suit say they were paid less than Troy Lawler, a man hired in 2005 who had no prior experience in the industry, and were told “that Lawler needed to be paid more than the females because he had a child to support.” He also received promotions even though more qualified women say they indicated their interest in advancing. Kelly Contreras, who worked for Sterling stores from 1993 to 2005 in Madison, Wisconsin, was intimately familiar with the company’s wage discrimination. She and her husband both worked as store managers and had similar industry and company experience, yet he was making $55,000 a year, while she made $35,000. When they both became district managers, he made $10,000 more.

Besides being paid less than less qualified men, Judy Reed, who has worked at Jared stores since 2000, says she has repeatedly been passed over for promotions. Despite the fact that she has more than 30 years of experience in the jewelry industry, including five as an assistant manager for Sterling, she says that she was denied at least four different promotions that well instead to less qualified men.

In 2005, one woman actually looked at the paperwork in the store where she was assistant manager:
She found the new salesperson, a man who had no retail jewelry experience, was making $15 an hour — over $1.50 more an hour than the woman who was the store’s top seller.

She checked another file, and then another, until she had reviewed the records of each of the dozen or so sales staff members. Almost all of the men, recalled Ms. Souto-Coons, then an assistant manager, were making more per hour than the women.

So in case you needed a reason other than those horrible, horrible ads not to "go to Jared," here you go. And, you know, in case you needed a reason to support the Paycheck Fairness Act, since it would make it easier for women to find out they were being discriminated against and take action against it.

Continue reading below the fold for more of the week's labor and education news.

A fair day's wage

  • The other Final Four: Lawsuits that could threaten how the NCAA does business and exploits athletes.
  • Fruit of the Loom is closing its Jamestown, Kentucky, plant, laying off all 600 workers, and moving production to Honduras.
  • Excellent:
    A California logistics company must pay more than $2.2 million in back pay to seven short-haul truck drivers it had illegally misclassified as independent contractors, a state labor board ruled on Wednesday, continuing a streak of victories for drivers who are asserting their labor rights in the state.

    By labeling the drivers independent contractors rather than employees, Pacer Cartage, Inc. was able to avoid paying the workers for things like time spent waiting at the port to pick up a load and reimbursements for job expenses. Labor laws protect full-time employees from such wage theft, but independent contractors aren’t covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, minimum wage laws, and other worker protections. The California Labor Commissioner’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) ruled that the company “knew or should have known” that the drivers were employees rather than contractors and instructed Pacer to pay $2,214,496.39 in restitution, attorney’s fees, and interest.

    Still more excellent:
    Pacer’s parent company said it intends to appeal the ruling, according to Southern California Public Radio. But its chances of success seem low. The DLSE is working through around 500 separate complaints like this one, and as of two weeks ago it had ruled in favor of the drivers in all 30 of the cases on which it had reached a ruling.
  • A union aims at Pittsburgh's biggest employer. (Spoiler: It's a hospital, not a steel mill.)
  • Balloon Juice's Soonergrunt on training to be a union steward.
  • California is considering new measures to protect temp workers. Badly needed, too.
  • Well, this makes sense:
    A janitorial company painted by “Fox and Friends” as the victim of attempted pro-union government coercion has in fact been coercing its own employees to hide safety risks from the government, employees charged to Salon.


  • Newark students walk out.
  • New York has the nation's most segregated schools. And, uh:
    Nearly three-quarters of the charter schools in New York City are considered “apartheid schools” because less than 1% of their enrollment is white. Charters are often more racially segregated than the district in which they are located.
  • Education activism in Oklahoma?
    Nearly 25,000 teachers, parents and students from all corners of the state converged at the state Capitol on Monday to urge legislators to invest in Oklahoma's public education system.

    "This is not about funding; it's about respect," [Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Keith] Ballard said to enthusiastic cheers. "It is highly disrespectful to be ranked 49th in the country in per-student funding."

    He was the last of a slew of speakers who urged state legislators to make public schools a priority, noting that the funding for Oklahoma yearly public education funding levels are 22.8 percent below 2008 prerecession levels even as schools educate nearly 40,000 more students.

  • And another schools superintendent, this one Todd Gazda of Lowell, Massachusetts, speaks out for education:
    The light of creativity and student engagement are the greatest casualties of the education reform movement. Teachers recognize this and express frustration, but their concerns are disregarded or minimized. We will not achieve greatness in our educational system until we break free of the bonds that are driving us towards mediocrity. We have had over a decade of minimal growth under our current reform efforts and yet the response is that we have to increase those same types of mandates. At what point do we realize our error and open the discussion to find an alternative? Some productive middle ground where we hold educators accountable while recognizing their professionalism and work with them to develop a system that functions without being oppressive.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 10:56 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's so nice to read some good news! (5+ / 0-)

    Thank you for these.

  •  let's assume (9+ / 0-)

    you are a raging anti-feminist.

    Don't you still like making money? Why wouldn't you pay your top seller top money instead of wasting it on someone who is a lesser seller simply because he has a y chromosome?

    It's just bad business.  I don't believe in equal pay, I believe in merit pay.  If someone is doing a better job, they get more money, type of gonads notwithstanding. If  two folks are doing the same job, same pay.  Doing lesser work, less pay.

    Seems easy, logical, good business, and has the side bonus of being non-sexist (or racist or homophobic...).

    •  In my experience compaines will pay as little as (6+ / 0-)

      they can get away with. I don't get why this stuff happens.

      The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy;the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness

      by CTMET on Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 11:34:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  True (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        antirove, israelfox87

        As long as companies can get away with paying anyone less they'll do it.  Women, minorities, women with children, corporations know people need their jobs to survive few will complain or make an issue, generally the employee will overcompensate to prove they deserve better salary, but it won't happen.

        Defend New Orleans Save the Gulf

        by machu on Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 06:23:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, it is but ... (5+ / 0-)

      I worked at a paper in the ’90s where the publisher had issues with women and drove away not one, not two, but THREE of our top producers in sales. I never got that. Treating editorial people like dirt is a judgment call but sales is so quantifiable. In one case, the top grossing sales person got MS and couldn't easily get to our second-floor, no-elevator office. She wanted to work at home and he was a dick about it. Another one just got disgusted and quit. He froze out our dedicated classified person and hired an inexperienced person to be over her, so she left for another better job.

      BTW this guy has risen to a major job at a major publishing company which is currently making a massive mess it is making of the area it says it's survival is dependent on — you know, the print/digital divide thing. He's screwing it up for them.

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it.

      by anastasia p on Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 01:26:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent to see the children of Newark assert (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


  •  But, it's just because (12+ / 0-)

    the women didn't negotiate better!


    Seriously, this is why we need not just strong legislation, but strong unions.  Everyone, no matter who, should be paid based on the same merit-based pay scale.

  •  Not surprised. (6+ / 0-)

    The jewelry trades are extremely conservative in nature. On the one hand, it seems to be the last bastion of "handshake" credit (ie you can be advanced parcels of gems on the basis of confidence that you will pay later). To a degree, they need to be conservative because the entire business would probably fall apart if it were not. The trade also tends to "families" in that those who run it tend to be born into it. And.... that leads to a male breadwinner bias.

    And that portion is WRONG WRONG WRONG on so many levels.

    There is no reason on planet Earth that people in RETAIL sales in malls should have horrific gender bias of this nature. Conservative trade or no.

    Of course, you can bet that there is also a gendered pay differential in design, manufacture, site buyers, and all other areas of the trade, but this is just what is being addressed here in this suit.

    Also, I hope that the woman who made the discovery about the pay differentials by looking at the files hasn't been/won't be hit with a massive privacy violation countersuit. One supposes her lawyers are protecting her.

    I hope they win BIG and this sends a message throughout all the trades.

    Darling, you didn't use canned salmon, did you?

    by JrCrone on Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 11:47:28 AM PDT

  •  I see Kentucky is the latest loser... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in the ongoing bribe the oligarch to keep jobs in America derby. Should have offered taxpayer funded annual 30% stock gains along with all those tax exemptions, I guess.

    Communities are trying to overcome competing with American companies who've decided dumping chemicals and waste products directly into the environment, while employing slave labor at the point of a gun, to be much easier than employing the citizenry that created them.

    Something about "biting the hand that feeds you" comes to mind.

    It's just a matter of time before this whole free trade jig is finally up; but I'm sure there will be Democrats around to take the fall for yet another rotten Republican idea.  

    "The philosophy of conservatism is inevitably doomed by its adherents' willingness to accept bluster as a sign of character and thick-headed devotion to meaningless symbols as sign of moral fiber." (Albert Einstein)

    by Jim R on Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 11:51:37 AM PDT

    •  One of the ironic components (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim R, Creosote

      of this story in Kentucky is that many Fruit of the Loom workers in Honduras are unionized and have more protections than these folks did in Kentucky.

      You are exactly right to point to free trade on this decision - and to think that so many leaders from places like Kentucky (Democrats too) are ready to sign off on TPP so that we can make it easier to shut down more manufacturing and send it over to Asia.

  •  Jewelry is for flaunting wealth (3+ / 0-)

    and with all the middlemen/women that raw materials go through to get to the consumer it is vastly overpriced. That's not even looking at price fixing towards the end of the chain. The only reason to pay anyone in the trade low wages is to give the lion share of the wealth to the business owners and managers. Fuck everyone else. Even the men are getting reamed, just a bit less so than women.

    •  These were not the Jewelery stores of the wealthy (0+ / 0-)

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 12:36:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  These are the jewelery stores of the (0+ / 0-)

        wealthy wannabes.  The primary purpose of jewels is to show financial status.  

        •  mmmmmm (0+ / 0-)

          In some cases, yes. But there is also a lot of sentiment and personal aesthetic statement involved. And the art of it.

          There is a big range in the jewelry trade. And, we all must remember the exploitation at the mines and the people doing the faceting in the countries of origin.

          However, blanket statements like this, however well-intended and frequently correct, are unfair to a certain segment of producers and consumers.

          If there is reform at the sources, it could create a profound shift in both the making of wealth and our understanding of its expression.

          Besides. How many of the current Masters of the Universe are running around buying fancy rocks? I haven't noticed it, but maybe that's my sub-section of Masters of the Universe observation.

          Darling, you didn't use canned salmon, did you?

          by JrCrone on Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 02:09:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  New York State schools most segregated? (0+ / 0-)

    Wow, I must really be in my own little world here in the downstate suburbs, because that surprises me.  We have some Catholic schools around, a few of which are disproportionately white from what I hear, but otherwise not a lot of options for segregation I guess.  No charters.  A school district arranged into schools with only a few grade levels that draw from a correspondingly large geographic region.  My son's elementary school is most definitely more diverse than most of the individual communities it draws from.

  •  The jewelry situation is even tougher (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nellgwen, JrCrone, Creosote

    As I understand it, a lot of them use a commission-based pay feature. Who gets credit for sales, and when makes a big difference. Work with a customer, spend a lot of time getting them what they want, if they don't close right then and come back later, if you don't do the final paperwork, you may not get any share of that commission at all. There are other ways the system can be rigged as well.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 11:59:12 AM PDT

  •  Oldest excuse ever... (6+ / 0-)

    but to take the premise that a man has a family and so deserves higher pay, well then you would have to prorate their income according to the size of his family. So a man with two kids gets paid more than the guy with one, who would get more than the guy with no kids.
    And women don't also have families?!?!?!?


    Isn’t it ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray. ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring ~

    by MA Liberal on Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 12:14:56 PM PDT

  •  But they can't demand a living wage. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nellgwen, BYw
    ...and were told “that Lawler needed to be paid more than the females because he had a child to support."
    And yet, at all other times in the supposed "free market", the needs of the employee vis-a-vis a living wage are seen as having nothing to do with their compensation.

    Business owners will say whatever they have to say, in the given moment, to rationalize doing what they want to do.

    "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" -- (Talbot, in: The Maid of Orleans by Friedrich Schiller)

    by rfall on Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 12:29:51 PM PDT

  •  Laura, update diary to tell us how Paycheck (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rfall, JrCrone

    Fairness Act would impact a situation like the jewelry store situation described, in ways current law does not.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 12:33:23 PM PDT

    •  As I understand it, the Paycheck Fairness Act (0+ / 0-) primarily designed to close loopholes opened by the courts in the Equal Pay Act, signed in 1963.  The EPA was intended to prevent differing pay scales based on gender, but many employers have been successful in winning such suits by claiming that pay disparities were due to "factors other than sex".  This "escape clause" in the EPA was not intended to be stretched to cover as many situations as the courts have held it to.  For example, as mentioned in the Wikipedia article, some courts have:

      abandoned any effort to determine whether the purported “factor other than sex” on which an employer relies is in any way related to the qualifications, skills, or experience needed to perform the job
      That's a loophole a mile wide, and the PFA is intended to address this (among other things).

      "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" -- (Talbot, in: The Maid of Orleans by Friedrich Schiller)

      by rfall on Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 12:43:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Re (0+ / 0-)

        It's not a loophole.

        Employers are free to consider any factor they choose to consider (or no factor) as long as it isn't gender or one or two other factors. This is not a loophole: it's how the law always has been.

        There is no requirement at all that pay has to have anything to do with job performance. Nor, frankly, should there be one imposed by the government. The unintended consequences would be massive.

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 03:02:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  When were we last told that a single mother (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egalitare, JrCrone

    needed to be paid more than a man because she had a child to support?

    Lawler needed to be paid more than the females because he had a child to support.

    American Presidents: 43 men, 0 women. Ready for Hillary

    by atana on Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 12:47:45 PM PDT

    •  Silly! The single mothers (0+ / 0-)

      are unattached women and therefore slutty slutty welfare sluts. It is presumed that they feed their future criminal children by leaching off a man or the government at large.


      Darling, you didn't use canned salmon, did you?

      by JrCrone on Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 02:21:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There aren't many endeavors more corrupt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    than the jewelry and gem business. Even if you factor out conflict or blood diamonds.
        One of the greatest cons it's managed to put into the minds of the public is the fact that diamonds are priced that high because they are rare. In fact they are the most plentiful gem stone on the planet. If you go by rarity a diamond you might see on an average engagement ring should cost about 20.00.
       All things being equal an emerald should cost more. It's the rarest of the major precious stones. Every emerald at every level should cost more than a diamond. Emeralds are more brittle and they are given to inclusions than any other stone.
       For that matter natural Spider Turquoise is more rare that any diamond.
       If you really want to buy some good quality jewelry including gem stones find a local independent goldsmith / jeweler. It may cost more but the money goes into less hands so that more of the cost goes into the materials instead of fancy blue boxes and slick ads. And you may find the jewelers using local stones.
        But I want to talk about the NCAA. Another equally corrupt organization. It's time for them to be gone.

    Well I'm just a tree, but if I were you I'd listen to your GHOST FRIEND! Howard-Big Bang Theory

    by nellgwen on Sat Apr 05, 2014 at 12:56:21 PM PDT

  •  working1 (0+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    Hidden by:

    Hi ! I am Jenna, and i will be your personal coach and will guide you in starting with an online business and earning online... So if you are interested in making $90 hourly and up to $12000 a month then follow link at the bottom and sign up and you can have your first check by the end of this week...­­WORK71.C­­O­­M

  •  Two victories in Texas (0+ / 0-)

    on the labor front this month!

    450 mechanics at a helicopter plant in Corpus Christi run by L3 voted to form a union with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

    Also a few weeks previous, thanks to strong worker and student solidarity at Texas Christian University, 140 food service workers employed by the contractor Sodexo joined UFCW.

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