UPDATE: WPP has provided us with a statement denying the charges in Johnson’s lawsuit. From Martinez himself:
“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.”
A discrimination suit filed in Manhattan federal court today by JWT’s chief communications officer Erin Johnson accuses global chairman and CEO Gustavo Martinez of joking about rape and making a series of racist statements about Jewish people and African-Americans.
The suit, first reported by Claire Atkinson of The New York Post this morning, claims that Martinez “grabbed [Johnson] around the neck” on more than one occasion after threatening to rape her in the company bathroom and interrupted an executive meeting to ask her which other female employees he might be able to rape.
The suit alleges that Martinez’s obsession with Johnson led him to once ask other executives to leave his office so that the two could discuss “the sex” and also claims that he suggested a fellow (female) executive should be “raped into submission.”
According to Johnson, Martinez also has a long history of making blatantly racist comments about both Jewish and African-American people. Specifically, she alleges that he complained about living in New York’s Westchester County because he “hates those fucking Jews” and that he told other executives at a JWT meeting that he avoids African-American employees at airport security because “black monkeys … don’t know how to use computers.”
Johnson also claims that she previously reached out to executives at JWT and WPP about Martinez’s behavior and that he retaliated by cutting her bonuses and leaving her out of executive meetings.