A federal appeals court on Monday restored a nationwide class action arbitration allowing at least 70,000 female Sterling Jewelers employees to pursue claims that the retailer paid them less and promoted them less often than men for a decade.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said a lower court judge erred in finding that an arbitrator lacked power to include women in the class who had not said they wanted to join it, rather than only the 254 who authorized it.
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The case had been brought in 2008 under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the federal Equal Pay Act.
A large class action could subject Signet to greater liability than if more women were forced to arbitrate individually.
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Joseph Sellers, a lawyer for the women, said in an interview he was pleased with the decision.
"It's a good thing for workers because it permits them to participate in classes certified in arbitration, in the same way [as] classes certified by the courts, to ensure that their interests and rights can be protected," he said.
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