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(Bloomberg) -- Signet Jewelers Ltd., owner of the Kay, Jared and Zales jewelry chains, fell the most in almost two months on a report that former employees suffered sexual harassment and gender discrimination at one of its divisions.
About 250 women and men at the Sterling Jewelers business made allegations about instances dating from the late 1990s and 2000s, according to a report from the Washington Post, which cited arbitration documents. A broader class-action case includes 69,000 women who are current and former workers at Sterling, the Post said.
In response to the story, the Akron, Ohio-based company said none of the 69,000 class members has brought claims for sexual harassment or sexual impropriety. The only claims certified to proceed are related to alleged unintentional gender pay and promotions discrimination, the retailer said.
“We have thoroughly investigated the allegations and have concluded they are not substantiated by the facts and certainly do not reflect our culture,” David Bouffard, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail. Signet has created career opportunities for female employees nationwide, he said.
Signet shares dropped as much as 7.5 percent to 67.43 in New York, the biggest intraday decline since Jan. 5. The stock had already fallen 23 percent this year before the latest tumble.
The report brings another headache to a company that spent last year fending off allegations of diamond swapping at its stores. Stories in BuzzFeed and other publications said customers had their gems replaced with inferior stones while they were being serviced. Signet has said in response that it maintains rigorous product and service-quality procedures.
Signet also has been reviewing its in-house credit business, which helps customers finance their jewelry. Investors have raised concerns that the company relies too heavily on the division for profit.
The company will announce its fourth-quarter results on March 9.
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