New Filings in Martinez Case Accuse JWT of ‘Encouraging’ Discriminatory Behavior

By Patrick Coffee 

Today the legal team representing JWT global chief communications officer Erin Johnson filed a couple of documents dismissing various claims made by the opposing side in her suit filed against now-former CEO Gustavo Martinez.

First, they call claims about the secrecy of information on the DVD that includes footage of Martinez’s rape joke disingenuous. Then they imply that, by calling upon various executives to defend the statements in question, calling them inoffensive and arguing that they were all about “eas[ing] the tension,” JWT and parent company WPP “not only are condoning Martinez’s behavior, but indeed are encouraging it.”

From the document:

“This after-the-fact attempt to cover up unlawful conduct is a blatant rewrite of history and is obviously pretextual. …

While others may think throwing pies in another’s face or short sheeting a bed is a ‘joke,’ the high level meeting in Miami was not summer camp, and ‘rape’ is not funny in any language.”

There’s quite a bit of verbiage like this in the full memorandum, which was filed in Manhattan’s federal court this morning. It’s main argument holds that the DVD (referred to as “The Video”) should be admitted into evidence and become part of the public record because JWT/WPP “conjure[d] up a privacy interest” regarding the subject of the now-notorious meeting: “The Video confirms and is integral to the Amended Complaint’s allegations of bias including Martinez’s repeated comments about raping JWT employees.”

Those lines are all about denying the claim that releasing the video to the public would compromise JWT by providing everyone who cares to look with privileged information about its “Proprietary Process” approach to global management and strategy.

The filing also effectively calls JWT/WPP and their legal team liars for initially denying that Martinez ever made such a joke in the first place and allowing him to claim that all accusations made in Johnson’s suit were “outlandish.”

In yet another disagreement, the law firm of Vlasick, Raskin & Clark argues that JWT/WPP complaints regarding reporters bothering its executives about this story are also “absurd” and that “those privacy claims ring hollow” given the fact that hotel employees were allowed to come and go at the meeting. Finally, they argue that, since agency executives only appear in “The Video” for a few fleeting moments, there is no way that the DVD will allow for public access to information that might damage JWT’s ability to compete in the market.

Last week, Martinez hired a separate law firm to serve as his own primary counsel.

All these recent developments concern only one incident: the one at the hotel in Miami last year. Johnson’s full suit includes several more, equally specific accusations made against Martinez and the various members of JWT’s executive team who either overlooked or made excuses for his (again, alleged) behavior over a period of more than two years.

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