$20M Sexual Harassment Suit Filed Against DDB, Omnicom

By Patrick Coffee 

Earlier this month, we posted on a pending lawsuit involving a DDB employee based in New York and allegations made against the agency, its holding company and three of its executives.

The complaint stems from the alleged behavior of the plaintiff’s supervisor, DDB Chief Digital Officer Joe Cianciotto. When our post went live, we knew little about the details of the suit beyond the fact that it was filed by a creative director who accused Cianciotto of sexual harassment.

After the story ran, we heard from the plaintiff’s lawyer, one Susan Chana Lask, Esq., who labeled agency statements about the suit “inaccurate” and offered her own narrative.


Lask cited our story in sharing details of the federal suit–officially filed today in the Southern District of New York–via her LinkedIn account. Lask makes this statement in her post:

“[The plaintiff] originally filed anonymously to protect his privacy but today revealed his name after threats from Omnicom and DDB to terminate him and sue him for libel.”

He is Matthew Christiansen, creative director on the State Farm account. Among the allegations that he and his lawyer made public via this document:

  • After Christiansen was hired, Cianciotto “immediately commenced a harassment campaign against him by repeatedly accusing Matthew of having AIDs just because he was gay…”
  • “To mock the LGBT community, Joe drew pictures of gay male employees fornicating and of Matthew naked with his penis erect commenting on Gay Equality.”
  • “Joe drew and circulated sexually explicit pictures of Matthew in the office and posted on Facebook.”
  • “Complaint certifications say that a woman’s sexual harassment complaint against Joe is at the EEOC.”
  • “The complaint alleges that employees complained to management Peter Hempel. He defended Joe and would threaten them.”

The post includes this quote from Christiansen:

“When he accused me of AIDs, I was paralyzed with fear that people would shun me. I feared that he had access to my medical records because I am HIV positive, a private matter. DDB never apologized for the harassment and asked me to leave instead.”

It also includes links to images of the drawings mentioned.

UPDATE: A DDB spokesperson provided this statement:

“The plaintiff in this action remains employed by DDB and has never been asked to leave the agency nor threatened with litigation by DDB.  As previously stated, DDB intends to vigorously defend itself against the claims of the plaintiff in a court of law.”