Ogilvy Counters Sexual Harassment, Fraud Charges

LOS ANGELES Following allegations by a former employee of sexual harassment and unfair business practices, WPP Group’s Ogilvy & Mather has filed a motion to dismiss all claims.

The suit was initially filed on May 5 in State Superior Court in Los Angeles and amended on July 30 by former Ogilvy executive administrator Yvette Dobbie, who is seeking general damages in excess of $500,000, as well as unspecified economic and punitive damages and attorney fees. The suit claimed that Dobbie was compelled to resign from Ogilvy’s Culver City, Calif., office in May 2002 after “internal whistleblowing” regarding “accounting and billing fraud and sexual harassment of herself and other employees by the company’s male managers, including defendant Rick Roth.”

On Aug. 29, Ogilvy removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Central California in Los Angeles, noting that the plaintiffs and defendant are in different states. Ogilvy’s response to the suit, filed on Sept. 5, argues that Dobbie’s allegations do not support a hostile work environment, constructive termination or intentional infliction of emotional distress. It also argues that the unfair business practices claim should be dismissed because it was not filed on behalf of herself or the general public.

“We believe the suit is entirely without merit,” said Ogilvy representative Eleanor Mascheroni. “We believe the claims are so weak, the plaintiff failed to make a valid case, which is why we’re moving to dismiss it.”

Dobbie’s lawyer could not be reached. A court date has been set for Oct. 20 in Los Angeles.