Lawsuit alleges manager put the ‘Christian’ back into Dior
A Basalt woman has filed court papers alleging she was fired from Christian Dior because she wasn’t young, she wasn’t hip, and she wasn’t Christian. According to Karen H. Snyder’s lawsuit, her Christian manager said she filled the Aspen boutique with evil spirits, prompting her to allegedly administer “cleansings” of the store. Snyder is seeking $300,000 from Christian Dior stemming from age- and religious-discrimination claims. She was fired Aug. 8, 2006. The supervisor who fired her was terminated a month later, the lawsuit says. The New York-based Christian Dior has filed court papers denying Snyder’s accusations, while maintaining that she was treated fairly during her nearly two years on the job. Christian Dior also claims that when Snyder complained about her work environment to her corporate superiors, she did not mention issues about age and religion. Snyder declined to comment Tuesday and her former supervisor, Kristin Pendergrass, was not available for comment. Court documents, however, paint a picture of a strained relationship between the two, which began with Pendergrass’ hiring as store manager in December 2005.After Pendergrass took the job, according to the lawsuit, she demoted Snyder from sales supervisor to sales representative. Soon after Pendergrass allegedly told Snyder, who was 55 at the time, that “she wanted cute, young, ‘funky’ girls working in the store, because Dior was gearing toward a younger group and everyone who worked at Dior across the country was young.”The suit also says Pendergrass took issue with Snyder’s faith, which is spiritual meditation. “Ms. Pendergrass spoke of her own Christian religious beliefs incessantly, reminding Ms. Snyder that she would never go to heaven if she was not a Christian,” the suit says. “Ms. Pendergrass told Ms. Snyder that she was full of bad spirits and the devil, and actually performed what she referred to as ‘cleansings’ of the store to remove the bad spirits when Ms. Snyder wasn’t there. Ms. Pendergrass based her decisions concerning the store on God and would tell Ms. Snyder and other employees that God was going to get rid of Karen Snyder and then the store would be young, fun and cool.”While the store remained short-staffed during June 2006, Snyder put in extra work to help out, the suit says. And when Pendergrass hired another worker, it was because God had a hand in it, the lawsuit says. “In and around June 2006, Ms. Pendergrass told Ms. Snyder that God had sent her a message: that the next person to walk through the door and ask if Dior was hiring would be the next employee hired. Ashley Terwilliger was the next person to walk through the door to inquire about a position. Ms. Pendergrass hired Ms. Terwilliger because she was young, with relatively no experience and could be paid less.”Snyder’s suit also claims she was reprimanded for leaving work 15 minutes early, on three separate occasions, to attend spiritual meditation classes, “which was in conflict with Ms. Pendergrass’ Christian beliefs,” the lawsuit says. Meanwhile, Pendergrass and Terwilliger would regularly arrive 30 minutes late on Sundays so they could attend church. Snyder’s lawsuit comes after she filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which on March 26 gave her a notice of right to sue, according to court documents.The suit, which demands a jury trial, was filed in June in the U.S. District Court of Denver. Prior settlement discussions have broken down, and the next settlement conference is scheduled for Jan. 7, according to court papers filed Tuesday. Rick Carroll can be reached at email@example.com
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