A former employee of Tiffany & Co. says the jewelry maker pushed her out after she had her breasts and ovaries removed to avoid getting cancer. Lisa O'Rourke alleges in a federal lawsuit that the company discriminated against her because she carries a gene mutation that put her at high risk for developing cancer, and she was compelled to have surgeries that her lawyer says were life-saving, the AP reports. O'Rourke said she decided to sue, and speak about her experience, because she wants to spread the word to Tiffany's many female customers, especially high-profile women affected by breast cancer including Angelina Jolie, who has been photographed in Tiffany and has had the same surgeries.
O'Rourke, 45, was director of strategic sourcing for Tiffany at its manufacturing facility in Cumberland, RI. She took a leave to have her ovaries and breasts removed in January and February 2014, and said she told Tiffany there would be more surgeries down the line. She says she took unpaid leave for a third surgery in July 2014 and told the company in October she would need another leave for a fourth surgery. A month later, she was told her job would be eliminated. Her lawyer says it is a case of discrimination due to her genetic condition. Tiffany is fighting the lawsuit and says it believes the allegations are "completely without merit." The lawsuit asks for unspecified punitive damages, back pay, and attorney's fees. (Read more Tiffany & Co. stories.)