Jamie Ardigo, a former HR director at J Christopher Capital, Ardigo, 32, told ABC News that on several occasions his boss, entrepreneur (and former Tory Burch co-owner) J. Christopher Burch, made it clear he only “only likes to hire gay men and beautiful women.”
Ardigo, who started with Burch in November 2011, says he was fired for raising questions about his employer’s hiring practices and the office atmosphere, which he called “inappropriate.” He cited one instance where an employee asked him, “Oh, are you going to introduce me to another gay guy?” and another where a male staffer said a female co-worker had a dildo in her purse. His reports on those instances, he says, “ended in absolutely nothing.”
Ardigo found this troubling on two levels, he says: As a gay man, he personally was offended. And as an HR professional “keenly aware” of the need to maintain a non-discriminatory atmosphere in the workplace, he knew that both the attitude expressed and any hiring that bore it out was contrary to federal and New York City law.
“I was highly concerned for the organization and uncomfortable myself working there,” he says. “I had never worked for an organization that made decisions based on that or that made comments like that.”
Ardigo is suing Burch for $1 million for wrongful termination and sex discrimination. Burch’s attorneys deny Ardigo’s discrimination claim and say he was axed for performance-related issues.