Jamie Ardigo, a former employee of Christopher Burch has filed a $1 million federal lawsuit alleging sexual orientation discrimination, hostile work environment and retaliation. Ardigo, a gay man, contends he was fired because he objected to his boss’s biased hiring: The boss, he alleges, only wanted to hire gay men and beautiful woman.
Ardigo, who was employed as the Director of Field Human Resources, claims that he overheard Burch openly state that he “only hired gay men because they were productive and he trusted them.” Ardigo says he found the remark “extremely offensive” and inappropriate for the company’s owner to make such comments. The former Director of Field Human Resources, then complained about the “inappropriate comments” made by Burch as well as by Burch’s girlfriend, Monika Chiang who asked the Director of Public Relations “are you going to introduce me to another gay guy.” The response to his complaints was that as the owner of the company, implying that Burch was allowed to do as he pleased.
After these and other inappropriate comments, Ardigo began an investigation but supervisors failed to do anything about Ardigo’s allegations. Shortly thereafter he was called in for review which contained inaccurate criticism. Such criticism was never voiced to Ardigo prior to his investigation into the owner’s inappropriate comments made in the work place. Ardigo alleges that due to the close proximity of his voicing his own rights and the rights of others, to be free from a hostile work environment including sexual remarks, he was fired in retaliation even though it was part of his job to keep such matters in the workplace under control but the message he received was that if the owner and his girlfriend make offensive and discriminatory remarks, then that is okay.
As a gay man, Argido says he was personally 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.