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There could be a snag in Tiffany & Co.'s efforts to rebrand itself this year. Months after appointing Vogue's Grace Coddington as its new creative partner and teaming up with Net-A-Porter on an exclusive e-commerce deal, the heritage jewelry brand is now tangled in a lawsuit with a former employee over religious reasons.
According to the New York Daily News, the company is reportedly being sued by Kristin Rightnour, its former director of marketing, who claims she was discriminated against — and later lost her job — for making a comment to her colleagues that Jewish people killed Jesus.
A self-proclaimed devout Catholic, Rightnour says she was fired and denied a $42,000 bonus over a casual conversation she had with her colleagues around the 2014 Easter holidays.
According to her lawyers, Alexander Coleman, Mike Borrelli and Pooja Bhutani, of Borrelli and Associates P.L.L.C, it was Rightnour's Jewish colleague who asked her and another Catholic co-worker about Easter and the crucifixion.
Later that August, Rightnour's lawyers say she was put on one-year probation after one of her colleagues complained about her remark that "the Jews killed Jesus." When she made a complaint about her punishment, Rightnour claims Tiffany & Co. retaliated by giving her a less than favorable performance review.
"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 Rightnour's lawyer, Alexander Coleman, in a statement to the Daily News.
Although Rightnour's allegations stem from over two years ago, her LinkedIn still says she is an employee there. The recent resurgence comes at a problematic time for the jewelry house, which is struggling to boost its fashion cred amongst a new wave of young consumers.
We've reached out to Tiffany & Co. for comment, but either way, this definitely isn't a headline Tiffany wants right now.