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May 12, 2016 3:46 pm

Catholic Executive at Tiffany & Co Fired for Allegedly Saying Jews Killed Jesus

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

The exterior of a Tiffany & Co. store. An executive at the jewelry retailer was fired for allegedly claiming Jews killed Jesus. Photo: Flickr.

The exterior of a Tiffany & Co. store. An executive at the jewelry retailer was fired for allegedly claiming Jews killed Jesus. Photo: Flickr.

A marketing executive at the jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co. was fired for allegedly saying Jews killed Jesus, the New York Daily News reported on Wednesday.

Kristin Rightnour, a self-proclaimed “devout Catholic,” was accused of making the comment during an April 2014 conversation in her office with a Jewish colleague and a Catholic coworker. The three were discussing plans for Easter when the Jewish coworker asked about Easter mass, according to Rightnour’s lawyers.

“Eventually, at her Jewish colleague’s request, Ms. Rightnour explained the crucifixion story,” Rightnour’s lawyers said in a new federal lawsuit filed in Manhattan, in which it is claimed that the Jewish colleague did not show any unease about the conversation. “Rather, [she] laughed at the story and replied, ‘They didn’t teach us any of this in Hebrew school!'”

Then, in August 2014, a human resources manager at Tiffany’s & Co. told Rightnour, 35, that one of her co-workers had complained that during the conversation in April, Rightnour had made the antisemitic claim that “the Jewish people killed Jesus.”

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Rightnour, who started working at the luxury jewelry retailer in October 2013, claims she was discriminated against and is seeking unspecified damages. According to her lawsuit, the Manhattan resident “vigorously denied … having ever said anything of the sort while simultaneously maintaining, when asked, that she is in fact a devout Catholic, that her religion was known to her colleagues, and that what Ms. Rightnour had explained is indeed a standard Catholic belief.”

The lawsuit stated that Tiffany & Co. reprimanded Rightnour and put her on a year-long probation, “based on Defendant’s perception that as a practicing Catholic, Plaintiff held the belief that ‘Jewish people killed Jesus,’ as well as Plaintiff’s acknowledgment that many Catholics did indeed believe as much.”

Rightnour complained about the company’s handling of the situation on Dec. 8 of that year, and the jewelry retailer responded with a mediocre performance review, the New York Daily News reported. After Rightnour filed a complaint with the United States Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, Tiffany & Co. decided against giving her a promotion and eventually fired her in August 2015.

“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,” Alexander Coleman, one of Rightnour’s lawyers, said in a statement.

The New York Daily News was unable to reach Tiffany & Co. for a comment.

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