Frequently Asked Questions
- Why Did I Receive a Settlement Check?
- Can I Have My Settlement Check Reissued?
- What Is This Case About?
- Who Can Participate in the Settlement?
- What Are the Terms of the Settlement?
- How Were the Settlement Amounts Determined?
- I worked during the Title VII Settlement Class Period (July 22, 2004 to June 23, 2022) or the EPA Settlement Class Period (October 16, 2023 to June 23, 2022), but my Title VII or EPA gross award amount is less than I expected, why is that?
Why Did I Receive a Settlement Check?
Individuals identified as Settlement Class Members who did not exclude themselves from the Settlement were automatically entitled to monetary payment pursuant to the terms of the Settlement.Back To Top
Can I Have My Settlement Check Reissued?
Per the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the deadline to request a settlement check reissue has past.Back To Top
What Is This Case About?
Pursuant to Sterling’s RESOLVE Program, which was a mandatory three-step alternative dispute resolution program, in 2008, Laryssa Jock, Christy Meierdierks, Kelly Contreras, Maria House, Denise Maddox, Lisa McConnell, Gloria Pagan, Judy Reed, Linda Rhodes, Nina Shahmirzadi, Leighla Smith, Dawn Souto-Coons, and Marie Wolf (collectively, the “Named Claimants”) brought a Class and Collective Action in arbitration on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated women (the “Case”). In the complaint, the Named Claimants alleged that Sterling engaged in sex discrimination by denying women the same promotional opportunities made available to men and compensating women less than men for the same work performed in the same facilities in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended and the Equal Pay Act (hereinafter referred to as the “Federal Civil Rights Laws”). Throughout the pendency of this Case, Sterling has denied and continues to deny any and all allegations of actual or potential wrongdoing and/or violations of law. Sterling ceased using the RESOLVE Program as of May 2, 2018.
At the time this Settlement was reached, the parties had completed fact-gathering about the women’s claims and the defenses to them and were preparing for a trial that was scheduled to begin on September 6, 2022.Back To Top
Who Can Participate in the Settlement?
The Settlement includes a Title VII Settlement Class and an EPA Settlement Class (defined below), and together the individuals in these classes are referred to in the Notice as the “Settlement Class Members.” If you are a Settlement Class Member, your rights are affected by this Settlement.
The Title VII and EPA classes are limited to women who are or were employed by Sterling Jewelers in any of the following positions (“Retail Sales Associates”): Part-time Sales Associates, Full-time Sales Associates, Department Managers, Assistant Managers, Assistant General Managers, Store Managers, or General Managers in one or more of the following retail stores: Belden, Friedlanders, Goodman, Jared, JB Robinson, Kay, LeRoys, LeVian, Marks & Morgan, Osterman, Rogers, Shaws, Weisfield, or Ultra Diamonds (after Ultra Diamonds was acquired by Sterling Jewelers Inc. effective June 1, 2013).
The Title VII Settlement Class includes all female Retail Sales Associates who are or were employed by Sterling at any time between July 22, 2004, and May 2, 2018.
The EPA Settlement Class includes all female Retail Sales Associates who are or were employed by Sterling Jewelers between October 6, 2003, and May 2, 2018 and who submitted forms consenting to join the EPA case in 2016.Back To Top
What Are the Terms of the Settlement?
Monetary Terms: Sterling has paid a total of $175,366,000.00 for the monetary portion of this Settlement. This includes $125,000,000.00 payable to the Settlement Classes and Service Payment Recipients (defined below), $45,000,000.00 paid to Class Counsel as attorneys’ fees and $4,866,000.00 for reimbursement of out-of-pocket costs litigation expenses incurred in this litigation, and $500,000.00 to the settlement administrator. For the monetary payments to Settlement Class Members, 25% of the amount will be reported on an IRS Form 1099-MISC and 1099-INT as other income or interest and 75% of the amount will be reported on an IRS Form W-2 as wages. Sterling has paid the employer share of taxes normally collected on those settlement funds paid as wages.
Programmatic Relief Terms: Sterling has retained an expert to confirm that its method of settling starting pay for Retail Sales Associates and its leadership traits used for promotions are consistent with generally accepted best practices under Federal Civil Rights Laws and revise such practices as recommended by the expert. Sterling will provide the results of these studies to Class Counsel to review and confirm compliance. Sterling has also confirmed that it has discontinued and will not reinstate certain pay setting and promotion practices that were challenged in this Case. Furthermore, Sterling has agreed to continue to offer and further develop, as needed, (1) its mentorship programs and leadership training for women, (2) its parental leave policy, and (3) its workplace complaint investigation policies/practices to ensure that they continue to be consistent with best practices announced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). For a period of three years, Sterling will provide Class Counsel with annual certifications that its pay and promotion practices comply with the recommendations made by its expert.
Release: By not excluding yourself from the Settlement, and in consideration for the payments and benefits received under the Settlement, you will, on behalf of yourself and each of your heirs, representatives, successors, assigns, and attorneys, be deemed to have fully, finally, and forever released, dismissed with prejudice, relinquished, and discharged Sterling, its parent Signet Jewelers Limited, and any other parents, subsidiaries, divisions, affiliates and related entities, successors and assigns, attorneys, assets, employee benefit plans or funds, and in the case of all such entities, any of its or their respective past, present, and/or future directors, officers, fiduciaries, agents, trustees, administrators, shareholders, employees, and assigns, whether acting on behalf of those entities or in their individual capacities (collectively, the “Released Parties”), from any and all claims of whatever nature, known or unknown, that you may have against the Released Parties, arising out of the same transaction, series of connected transactions, occurrences, or nucleus of operative facts that form the basis of the claims that were or could have been asserted in this Case, including but not limited to all individual, class, and collective claims for gender discrimination in pay and promotions in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and the Equal Pay Act, and state law counterparts, including any related claims for penalties, liquidated damages, punitive damages, interest, attorneys’ fees, litigation costs, restitution, or injunctive, declaratory, or equitable relief (the “Release”).
A copy of the Settlement Agreement can be viewed and downloaded here.Back To Top
How Were the Settlement Amounts Determined?
Title VII Settlement Class: Monetary relief was allocated during the period of July 22, 2004, to June 23, 2022 as follows annually (for 365 days) but allocated to each Title VII class member based on the number of days they worked in a given year: $2,996 per year for serving as a store manager or general manager, $1,928 per year as an assistant manager or assistant general manager, $1,196 per year as a department manager, $672 per year as a full-time sales associate, and $270 per year as a part-time sales associate. The settlement share for each member of the Title VII Settlement Class was then determined using a pro rata share formula by dividing the total amount allocated for that member by the total amounts allocated to all members of the Title VII Settlement Class and multiplying this fraction times the total amount allocated to the Title VII Settlement Class, which, resulted in the following amounts being paid to members of the Title VII Class per day based on the number of days they worked in a covered position during the period of July 22, 2004, to June 23, 2022, as follows::
- $6.72 per day employed as a store manager or general manager;
- $4.32 per day employed as an assistant manager or assistant general manager;
- $2.68 per day employed as a department manager;
- $1.51 per day employed as a full-time sales associate; and
- $0.61 per day employed as a part-time sales associate.
The minimum amount that any member of the Title VII Settlement Class will be awarded is $50.00.
EPA Settlement Class: Monetary relief was allocated the period of October 16, 2003, to June 23, 2022 as follows annually (for 365 days) but allocated to each EPA Settlement class member based on the number of days they worked in a given year: $2,996 per year for serving as a store manager or general manager, $1,361 per year as an assistant manager or assistant general manager, $1,152 per year as a department manager, $500 per year as a full-time sales associate, and $150 per year as a part-time sales associate. The settlement share of each member of the EPA Settlement Class was then determined using a pro rata share formula by dividing the total amount allocated for that member of the EPA Settlement Class by the total amounts allocated to all members of the EPA Settlement Class and multiplying this fraction times the total amount allocated to the EPA Settlement Class, which, resulted in the following amounts being paid to members of the EPA Settlement Class per day based on the number of days they worked in a covered position during the period of October 16, 2003, to June 23, 2022, as follows::
- $5.59 per day employed as a store manager or general manager;
- $2.54 per day employed as an assistant manager or assistant general manager;
- $2.15 per day employed as a department manager;
- $0.93 per day employed as a full-time sales associate;
- $0.28 per day employed as a part-time sales associate; and
The minimum amount that any member of the EPA Settlement Class will be awarded is $50.00.
Individuals who are in both the Title VII Settlement Class and EPA Settlement Class will receive payments for being in both classes.Back To Top
I worked during the Title VII Settlement Class Period (July 22, 2004 to June 23, 2022) or the EPA Settlement Class Period (October 16, 2023 to June 23, 2022), but my Title VII or EPA gross award amount is less than I expected, why is that?
The amount of damages agreed to in the Settlement Agreement represents a compromise of the amount of damages, which could have been recovered if the Plaintiffs had prevailed at trial. During the litigation of the case, an expert for the Plaintiffs performed a statistical analysis and provided an estimate of the average wage amount per year that women employed by Sterling during the Title VII or EPA Settlement Class Periods were underpaid compared to male employees working in the same jobs under similar working conditions. For example, Plaintiffs’ expert opined that female store managers were underpaid on average by $2,996 per year or $8.21 per day. Sterling’s expert strongly disagreed with this opinion.
For purposes of the settlement, the parties agreed to use the wage loss estimates under Title VII and the EPA that Plaintiffs’ expert had opined were owed to women employed in the five jobs at issue in this case to provide a basis for dividing the Title VII and EPA damages that were recovered among the 67,234 members of the Title VII Settlement Class and the 9,009 members of the EPA Settlement Class.
For example, each member of the Title VII Settlement Class was allocated a share of the Title VII Settlement Class total recovery by multiplying the number of days the class member worked as a store manager during the class period times $8.21, multiplying the number of days the class member worked as an assistant manager by $5.28, multiplying the number of days the class member worked as a department manager by $3.28, multiplying the number of days the class member worked as a full-time sales associate by $1.84 and multiplying the number of days the settlement class member worked as a part-time sales agency by $0.74 and summing all of these values. A similar calculation was performed for each member of the Title VII Settlement Class and these settlement share calculations were summed to get a total amount of the settlement shares for all members of the Title VII Settlement Class. The settlement gross award for each individual class member was then calculated by dividing their settlement share amount by the total of all settlement share amounts and multiplying this number times the amount recovered for the Title VII Settlement Class. A similar process was used for members of the EPA Settlement Class.
A pro rata share formula like this is common in class action settlements were the number of class members and days of work were not able to be fully determined until after the settlement is approved by a court or arbitrator.
Here, a total of $125,000,000 was recovered for the Settlement Classes. From this amount, $3,781,500 was deducted for the service payments approved by the Arbitrator to be paid to the named plaintiffs and other settlement class members identified in the Settlement Agreement. In addition, a reserve fund of $400,000 was deducted. The total amount recovered for the Title Settlement Class and the EPA Settlement Class after these deductions is equal to $120,818,500. Pursuant to the Settlement Agreement, the Title VII Settlement Class were allotted 85 percent of this amount, which equals $106,974,372.50. The EPA Settlement Class was allotted the remaining 15 percent, which equals $13,894,127.50.
For the Title VII Settlement Class, each class member was allocated the following share amounts for the five covered positions:
Title VII Settlement Class Share Amount Per Year Share Amount Per Day Store Managers 2,996 8.21 Assistant Managers 1,928 5.28 Department Managers 1,196 3.28 Full Time Sales 672 1.84 Part Time Sales 270 0.74
The total number of days worked by all of the Title VII Settlement Class Members were added together and multiplied by the allocated settlement share rate (for example, all of the store managers worked a total of 5,749,576 days during the Title VII Settlement Class Period and this amount was multiplied by $8.21 per day for store managers for a total of $47,204,019). These amounts are shown below for the five covered positions including in the Settlement:
Title VII Settlement Class Allocate Share Amount Per Day Total Days Worked by All Class Members Total Allocation Share Amounts Store Managers 8.21 5,749,576 47,204,019 Assistant Managers 5.28 6,106,123 32,240,329 Department Managers 3.28 1,195,267 3,920,476 Full Time Sales 1.84 19,878,983 36,577,329 Part Time Sales 0.74 14,465,955 10,704,807 Total Title VII Allocated Shares 130,646,960
Because the total allocated shares equals $130,646,960, which exceeded the amount of the Title VII Settlement Class Amount recovered under the Settlement, which equals $106,974,372.50, the amounts allocated for days worked in the Title VII Settlement Class Period were reduced by the ratio of the Settlement Amount recovered divided by the total allocated settlement amount for all Title VII Settlement Class Members (i.e., $106,974,372.50/$130,646,960, which equals approximately 81.8%).
The final pro rata settlement amount per day for the Title VII Settlement Class is calculated by multiplying the initial allocation share amount by the pro rata share reduction factor:
Title VII Settlement Class Allocated Share Amount Per Day Pro Rata Reduction Factor Final Amount Per Day After Pro Rata Reduction Store Managers 8.21 81.8% 6.72 Assistant Managers 5.28 81.8% 4.32 Department Managers 3.28 81.8% 2.68 Full Time Sales 1.84 81.8% 1.51 Part Time Sales 0.74 81.8% 0.61
Using the above chart, the amount of a Title VII Settlement Class Member’s Title VII award amount can be estimated. For example, a Title VII Settlement Class Member who worked 365 days as a store manager would be awarded a gross recovery amount equal to approximately 365 times $6.72, which equals, $2,452.52. This amount is approximately 81.8 percent of the initial allocated amount of $2,996 per year. In addition, all members of the Title VII Settlement Class were paid a minimum of $50.
The calculations for the final award amounts for the EPA Settlement Class were performed in a similar manner resulting in the following Final Amount Per Day After Pro Rata Reduction amounts:
EPA Settlement Class Final Amount Per Day After Pro Rata Reduction Store Managers 5.59 Assistant Managers 2.54 Department Managers 2.15 Full Time Sales 0.93 Part Time Sales 0.28
How Quickly Must I Cash My Check?
Settlement Class Members will have 120 days from the date printed on the checks to cash their checks. Of the funds that remain after 120 days expires, the Settlement Administrator may, if sufficient funds remain, distribute those uncollected funds in a second round of checks to all Settlement Class Members who cashed their checks during the initial check cashing period. The payments in a second distribution will be calculated using the same pro rata share formula for those who cashed their initial checks, subject to the same tax allocation, and must be cashed within 120 days from the date printed on the second checks. The Release will apply regardless of whether you cash or deposit your individual payment from the Settlement.
Any funds from the Class Settlement Fund after 120 days have passed from the second distribution, if a second distribution is effected, will be distributed as follows: 25% to a fund dedicated to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion to support female associates at Sterling and the remaining 75% to one or more non-profit organizations that serve the interests of women in the workplace, selected by Class Counsel and agreed to by Sterling (called a cy pres).Back To Top
What Should I Do If the Class Member Sent a Settlement Award Check Is Deceased?
An authorized representative of a deceased Settlement Class Member may receive the monetary settlement payment on behalf of the deceased Settlement Class Member. Contact the Settlement Administrator, whose contact information is here, to discuss this matter.Back To Top
Who Is Class Counsel?
The attorneys who have represented the Claimants and the Settlement Classes are as follows:
Class Counsel Joseph M. Sellers, Kalpana Kotagal & Harini Srinivasan
COHEN MILSTEIN SELLERS & TOLL PLLC
1100 New York Avenue, N.W. Fifth Floor
Washington, D.C. 20005
Sam J. Smith & Loren B. Donnell
BURR & SMITH, LLP
9800 4th Street N. Suite 200
St. Petersburg, FL 33702
Thomas A. Warren
THOMAS A WARREN LAW OFFICES, P.L.
2032-D Thomasville Road
Tallahassee, FL 32308
155 Grand Avenue, Suite 900
Oakland, CA 94612
How Is Class Counsel Being Paid?
Class Counsel was paid attorneys’ fees as well as reimbursed for costs and litigation expenses they paid on behalf of the class. You will not need to pay any additional attorneys’ fees, costs, or litigation expenses.Back To Top
Who Should I Contact With Questions?
Please contact the Settlement Administrator with any questions you have about the Notice or the Settlement.
Jock v. Sterling Jewelers Settlement Administrator
P.O. Box 6968
Portland, OR 97228-6968
Please ensure you include your name and your return address on all correspondence.Back To Top