Gustavo Martinez, the chairman and chief executive of J. Walter Thompson, one of the country’s largest ad agencies, has been slapped with a lawsuit by Erin Johnson, JWT's chief communication officer.
Johnson alleges in the lawsuit that Martinez's constant misogynistic and racist jokes created a hostile work environment that should not be tolerated.
The New York Post reports that, according to the lawsuit, this action does not stem from one lone incident—there were multiple incidents that took place over a long period of time with plenty of other employees witnessing the alleged harassment.
Martinez, in front of other staff, said to Johnson, “Come here, so I can rape you in the bathroom,” then grabbed her around the neck and started laughing, the suit claims.
Later that same day, he interrupted a meeting and asked Johnson, in front of other women, which female staff member he could rape, the suit alleges.
In addition, Martinez, on multiple occasions, said that certain women should “shut up [their] mouths” and that a female executive whom he clashed with needed to be “hog-tied” and “raped into submission,” the suit alleges.
It doesn’t end there. Martinez also allegedly made multiple horribly racist comments in the presence of several employees.
During a work lunch, the suit claims, Martinez told staffers the real reason he despised living in Westchester County was that he “hate[s] those f–king Jews.”
On another occasion, he told staffers he would avoid the “black monkeys” and the “apes” at airport customs, the suit alleges.
When Johnson went to executives at JWT and WPP to complain about Martinez’s inappropriate behavior, “Martinez retaliated by cutting her bonus and leaving her out of executive meetings, according to the suit,” The New York Post reports.
Johnson has been on paid leave since she filed the suit.
Martinez, on the other hand, made a statement about the case, calling it “outlandish.”
“I am aware of the allegations made against me by a J. Walter Thompson employee in a suit filed in New York Federal Court. I want to assure our clients and my colleagues that there is absolutely no truth to these outlandish allegations and I am confident that this will be proven in court.”
However, it seems that the allegations leveled against him are being supported by people outside of the lawsuit, including one journalist who claims to have been there for the “too many Jews” comment Martinez made.
According to Mashable, however, “WPP said in a statement that its lawyers have been looking through ‘previous correspondence on these matters’ since Feb. 25 and have not found any evidence to substantiate the claims.”
Johnson is seeking unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.
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