Zales: Guilty of Discrimination

Would you buy from a firm found guilty of discrimination? Probably not and that’s the fear of Zales jewelry store today.

Claims of discrimination can severely damage an organization’s reputation and brand. Consumers who have options would rather buy from those who have sterling reputations—not from companies’ accused of illegal discrimination toward their own customers.

In this case, a woman accused Piercing Pagoda, a division of Zales Delaware, of discrimination and the Maine Human Rights Commission and the Cumberland County Superior Court agreed, ordering the company to pay $100,000 in damages.

Zales has denied the claim, but the damage is done. People have been hurt, reputations harmed, and the company must now deal with the ugly headlines and long term impact on its business, workforce and customer base.

Advice for Employers: Adopt a zero tolerance policy on discrimination. Be clear to your workers that any act of discrimination—whether in your employment practices or how you deal with others, will never be tolerated. Foster a respectful environment and only hire quality staff. Train your employees and be vigilant in ensuring that you maintain a respectful workplace. And if claims are made, rapidly address it.

For more information on preventing discrimination, click here.



Filed under Compliance

3 responses to “Zales: Guilty of Discrimination

  1. What were the grounds for the claim?
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  2. The woman, an African American and Native American, claimed that when she tried to make a return the clerk became belligerent and told her “I’ve had enough with your kind.” When the clerk denied her return, the clerk then called mall security.

  3. When it comes to discrimination in jewelery stores, the great thing i that they have tapes of everything that happens. I’ve just heard of a case where lower level employees discriminated against a Gay man in a Zales and the District Manager reviewed the tapes and immediately fired the clerk and manager and made restitution on the customer. That was exactly the right thing to do. And the discrimination was clearly shown in the tape. However the company does bear a burden if they do not train their employees and if they do not have an easily accessible non-discrimination policy. — I support full equality and non-discrimination, but I never support zero tolerance policies. Zero tolerance means that every instance of discrimination, must be seen in exactly the same light. That means that a relatively innocent misunderstanding by an otherwise great employees who had never discriminated against anyone in the past and who had always acted in a positive way but who may have used the wrong word because of poor training must be dealt with in the same way as an intentional instance of screaming hostile discrimination by an out and out bigot. One situation may simply be a teachable moment, the other is absolute grounds for firing. But a zero tolerance policy requires the employees be fired in each case.

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