(JTA) — A former Tiffany & Co. marketing executive says she was discriminated against and eventually fired after a colleague complained that she said Jews killed Jesus.
Kristin Rightnour, a self-described devout Catholic who denies saying “anything of the sort,” has filed a federal lawsuit in Manhattan against the luxury jeweler, the New York Daily News reported Wednesday.
Rightnour, 35, who started as Tiffany & Co.’s director of marketing in October 2013, got into a conversation with a Jewish colleague and a fellow Catholic co-worker close to Easter in April 2014. According to the suit, she explained the “crucifixion story” at the request of her Jewish colleague.
The Daily News reported the Jewish co-worker “did not express discomfort” and said “They didn’t teach us any of this in Hebrew school!” during the discussion.
In August 2014, a human resources manager informed Rightnour that a colleague complained that she said “the Jewish people killed Jesus” in the April 2014 conversation.
Rightnour’s lawyers argue that “her religion was known to her colleagues” and what she explained is “indeed a standard Catholic belief.” They said Rightnour was put on a one-year probation period, given a mediocre performance review, skipped over for a promotion and eventually fired in August 2015 after she filed a complaint with the United States Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.
“What you have here is an employer engaging in a systematic, yet brutally transparent, scheme to punish an accomplished management-level employee for raising a good faith complaint — that she was treated disparately because of her religion,” said Alexander Coleman, one of Rightnour’s lawyers and a member of the firm Borelli and Associates.
Rightnour is seeking an unspecified amount of money in damages, the Daily News reported.