We recently wrote about the importance of company culture in maintaining a workplace free from discrimination and harassment. In today’s post, we discuss an example that illustrates this point.
The Washington Post published a story about alleged sexual harassment at Sterling Jewelers, the parent company of Jared the Galleria of Jewelry and Kay Jeweler. The allegations were made by approximately 250 former employees of the company, who are claiming that the company created a culture that fostered rampant sexual harassment and discrimination, according to arbitration documents.
The quotes from employees, who allege that the harassment took place throughout the 1990s and 2000s, are telling of the culture created by the company. A few quotes that stand out include:
“If you didn’t do what he wanted with him, you wouldn’t get your (preferred) store or raise.”
The harassment “was done out in the open and appeared to be encouraged, or at least condoned, by the company.”
“Looking back, I can’t believe I did some of the things I had to do. You suck it up and do what you have to do for your family. You need this job.”
The entire story is worth a read, because it highlights how company culture plays a role in alleged sexual harassment cases. One point that stands out from this story is how easily a hostile environment can begin to feel routine.
The employees quoted in this story talk about how they felt there was no course of action because their bosses were either the perpetrators or would not listen to their complaints. No employee should ever have to work in that type of environment, and anyone who feels like they or their coworkers are being harassed or discriminated against at work should speak to an experienced employment attorney.