Erin Johnson Is Returning to JWT 8 Months After Discrimination Suit Against the Agency

Case versus former CEO Gustavo Martinez is ongoing

Erin Johnson's actions could be a turning point in the industry.

Erin Johnson, the JWT global communications officer who made headlines around the world in March when she filed a lawsuit against her employer and her now-former boss, Gustavo Martinez, will be returning to her job at JWT in Manhattan on Wednesday.

The news comes from an internal all-staff email from global chairman and CEO Tamara Ingram, who replaced Martinez about a week after Johnson's suit went public nearly eight months ago.

The suit, filed in Manhattan federal court by the law firm of Vladeck, Raskin & Clark, accused Martinez of making it "impossible for [Johnson] to do her job" because of his "apparent comfort in making racist and sexist slurs, even on tape." The specifics of the case claimed that Martinez regularly made offensive statements about women, Jews and people of color and repeatedly joked about sexual assault. WPP initially stood by Martinez, who issued a statement calling Johnson's claims "outlandish" but resigned the following week.

Martinez earned more negative press the month after his departure, when Johnson's lawyers released a tape of him speaking to attendees at a 2015 client gathering at a Miami hotel. On the tape, Martinez can be heard joking about fears that he would be "raped … and not in the nice way."

Spokespeople for JWT and WPP declined to comment on news of Johnson's return, as did Vladeck, Raskin & Clark. Sources close to the matter told Adweek that Johnson will retain her title, that she will report directly to Ingram as noted in the email, and that her responsibilities will be sorted out in the coming weeks.

Johnson's suit, which named both the JWT organization and Martinez as defendants, has yet to be resolved. The most recent document filed was an Oct. 14 letter from Davis & Gilbert, the firm representing Martinez, to Judge Paul Oetken in which partner Howard Rubin urged him to dismiss the case.

The last statement from the WPP organization on Martinez came in response to August rumors that he would be running a European unit dedicated to JWT client Nestle. At the time, a holding company spokesperson denied the claim and wrote, "Gustavo Martinez and his family have left the United States and moved back to Barcelona. Pending the result of the court case he is working on projects in Spain and Latin America."

Martinez remains an employee of WPP.

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