The monsignor in charge of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York displayed a life-size cut-out of a barely clothed Beyoncé in his office, a new sex discrimination lawsuit charges.
Alice Kenny, 63, the ex-director of special projects, alleges that Monsignor Kevin Sullivan has a “penchant for attractive women” and once mentioned that “Jennifer Lopez’s scant attire catches his eye,” the filing says.
“Mr. Sullivan has made it clear that physical attributes and not accomplishments are what matter most when it comes to female staff,” wrote attorney Gregory Mouton in the Manhattan federal lawsuit filed over the weekend.
“Facing out of the office, he keeps a life-size cutout of a scantily-clad Beyoncé for all of the employees at Catholic Charities to see,” court papers allege.
Catholic Charities represents a network of more than 90 agencies that help New Yorkers in need, according to its website. Kenny was hired in 2008 and has dramatically increased funding to the charity and expanded its blog readership by 1,285 percent, the suit says.
In 2016, Kenny and other female staffers banded together to complain about senior manager Frederick Joseph sexually harassing them. After an investigation, he was allowed to resign, according to the filing. Joseph didn’t immediately return a request a comment.
As retaliation, Kenny says, she was isolated from other staffers, moved from an office to “a small desk in a hallway” and denied promotions.
“Mr. Sullivan openly excluded her [Kenny] from events and travel, choosing instead to invite younger, more attractive women to participate in activities,” the suit alleges.
In 2019, Kenny was demoted and a recent male college graduate was appointed as her supervisor despite his lack of experience and having initially been hired to fill a “secretarial” position, according to the filing.
Her co-workers were even permitted to take credit for her writing, she alleges.
She filed a grievance alleging discrimination with human resources, and it was denied.
“[Human resources] failed to adequately investigate her complaints and became complicit in the discrimination by threatening Ms. Kenny with retaliatory actions,” the suit says. “Ms. Kenny was constructively discharged as a result of the intolerable environment.”
The suit — which names Catholic Charities, the Archdiocese of New York, Sullivan and other executives — seeks unspecified damages for sex and age discrimination and failing to stop sexual harassment.
The Archdiocese of New York denied the allegations. “Ms. Kenny was a valued employee of Catholic Charities, an agency that is unconditionally committed to maintaining a workplace free from all discrimination, harassment, or unlawful retaliation,” said spokesman Joseph Zwilling. “Ms. Kenny voluntarily resigned from the Marketing and Communications Office a year ago. Any allegation of discrimination is totally without merit.”
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