Lawyers For Erin Johnson Now Say Gustavo Martinez’s Alleged Rants Were Caught on Tape

By Patrick Coffee 

News regarding the federal discrimination suit filed against J. Walter Thompson and its global chairman/CEO Gustavo Martinez continues to leak out to the public.

Everyone from Newsweek to Mashable posted on the suit after it broke last week, and the latest revelations are not updates so much as clarifications. WPP’s initial memo written in response to the suit told executives that the holding company’s internal team has “found nothing, as yet, to substantiate these charges.”

But records do allegedly exist. Over the weekend, the law team representing JWT global chief communications officer Erin Johnson in the suit “leaked” news to Campaign regarding one incident which they claim was caught on tape.

This event revolved around a spring 2015 trip to a hotel in Miami by the JWT leadership team. Four months after he was promoted to the global chairman/CEO role, Johnson’s lawsuit alleges, Martinez opened a meeting at the hotel by joking that the hotel room of JWT Portugal CEO Suzanne Carvalho had been “very visited” the previous night. According to the suit, he then proceeded to tell gathered executives that he had worried about “be[ing] raped at the elevator” the night the team arrived in Miami, adding, “not in a nice way.” In addition to the JWT event, the hotel was also hosting a hip-hop themed party on the night in question, and many of the attendees encountered by agency staff were African American.

According to the law firm of Vladeck, Raskin & Clark, the tape from the Viceroy Hotel includes all of these statements and others, which allegedly occurred during an agency retreat under the heading “Pioneering Progress.”

AdAge also ran a story today clarifying that–again according to Johnson’s legal team–they have email records of complaints that Johnson made against Martinez to JWT’s global chief talent officer Laura Agostini.

These emails were part of the initial complaint which mentioned Johnson’s efforts to bring Martinez’s alleged behavior to the attention of JWT and WPP executives, but the lawyers appear to have provided more details: in short, Johnson recommended that the agency “bring in someone to help address this so he understands” and Agostini responded that she had spoken to Martinez about the matter and that it would be addressed in some way.

According to the suit, Agostini did nothing and Johnson subsequently had her bonuses cut by agency executives.