June 09, 2022

Sterling Jewelers will shell out $125 million to a class of nearly 70,000 women to settle their claims of gender discrimination in pay and promotions, plus $50 million to cover their attorney fees in the long-running dispute, the company announced Thursday morning.

The deal, which was unveiled by the jeweler and lawyers for the class from Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC in a statement, would wrap up a massive arbitration that launched in 2008, if it's approved by the arbitrator overseeing the case.

"On behalf of our legal team, we applaud the courage of our clients in the pursuit of this case of singular importance to protecting the rights of women in the workplace," Cohen Milstein partner Joseph Sellers, who is lead class counsel, said in the statement. "This settlement provides for significant monetary relief for our clients and ensures that the practices that gave rise to this case will not recur."

The arbitration, which was scheduled to go to trial in September, includes a class of some 68,000 current and former female sales associates who claimed the factors the company used in salary decision-making suppressed their pay. They also said Sterling had an informal promotion system that favored men and deprived women of advancement opportunities.

They leveled claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, all of which will be resolved by the $175 million settlement if it is approved, Sellers told Law360.

Click through to read Law360 Employment Authority’s “Sterling Jewelers to Pay $175M to Settle Huge Pay Bias Case.