Lawsuit Hits D’Arcy New York

An art director who claims she was fired from D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles after complaining about sexual harassment, has filed a lawsuit against the agency, charging sexual harassment and retaliation.

The complaint was filed March 21 in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. D’Arcy was served last Thursday. Eileen Karakashian is seeking $5 million in damages. She claims that in April 1999, Curt Detweiler, a group creative director, became her direct supervisor and “began to engage in a course of sexually hostile and discriminatory conduct” against her and other female employees in his group.

The complaint alleges that Detweiler repeatedly made “derogatory and humiliating graphic references to and about women and their body parts,” and engaged in conversations “regarding masturbation, ejaculation and anal sex.” When Karakashian asked him to stop, he responded that “she should ‘stop being so anal and uptight,’ ” the complaint says.

Court papers also allege that during a business trip, Detweiler “viciously [banged on Karakashian’s] hotel door in the middle of the night and [screamed] at her to let him in or come out and join him and his intoxicated male colleagues.”

D’Arcy management “condoned and permitted such conduct to continue in violation of the rights of its female employees,” the complaint says. However, sources claim that Detweiler was terminated immediately following the hotel incident.

The complaint also refers to Detweiler’s supervisor, executive creative director Graham Woodall, saying he “further exacerbated” the situation.

The complaint alleges that the agency fired Karakashian in May 2000 “without any notice,” four months after she had filed a formal complaint within the agency. Other sources say she left on her own. Karakashian has retained the law firm Schwartz & Perry, which did not return repeated phone calls seeking comment. D’Arcy would not comment. Neither Karakashian nor Detweiler could be reached.