Innocean confirmed that chief creative officer Eric Springer has been placed on leave in the wake of a sexual harassment suit filed by former director of content Victoria Guenier.
The first and only comment we’ve received from the agency reads:
“As announced to employees on Friday, Eric Springer, Innocean USA’s chief creative officer, has been put on a leave of absence while an ongoing investigation is conducted into the allegations made in a lawsuit by a former freelance employee. We want to reiterate to all of our employees, clients, vendors and other partners, that Innocean USA is committed to providing a safe and positive work environment, free from any form of harassment, bullying or discrimination, and one that encourages collaboration and creativity among all employees.”
Springer has not responded to emails seeking comment on both the lawsuit itself and his current status.
Multiple parties tell us that the vast majority of the 300-plus employees at the agency’s Huntington Beach, Calif., headquarters had no knowledge of the suit before Adweek’s story went live.
Two current employees told us they had planned to stage a walkout on Monday before management discussed the case in an all-staff meeting at the end of the day on Friday, March 9.
Since the story first broke, multiple women have reached out to discuss their experiences working at Innocean. A former junior employee says that she was subject to “belittling behavior” but felt powerless to act during her time there. A male Innocean veteran wrote, “The only thing that surprises me about this reporting is that it took so long for it to become public.”
He also described as “tone deaf” the fact that the shop ran an International Women’s day post celebrating female employees on its Instagram account approximately two hours after the story first broke.
The post has since apparently been deleted.
Another interesting note brought to our attention by an anonymous tipster: Victoria Guenier, the producer who brought the suit against Springer, received a production credit on “The Force,” the Deutsch Volkswagen spot on which Springer served as group creative director. So the two parties have known each other for some time.
Hyundai has so far declined to comment.
While Innocean became a publicly traded company in 2015, the Chung family of South Korea, descended from Hyundai founder Chung Ju-yung, remain its largest shareholders.