Wal-Mart Claims ‘Evidence’ vs. Roehm

DALLAS Wal-Mart said it can produce evidence that shows former marketing svp Julie Roehm had an extramarital affair with her subordinate, communications vp Sean Womack.

Both executives were fired in December after they allegedly violated Wal-Mart’s ethics policy.

Roehm has denied having an affair and in December filed a lawsuit claiming Wal-Mart defamed her and violated her employment contract. Wal-Mart filed a response disputing Roehm’s claims.

In an article posted yesterday on New York magazine’s Web site, Wal-Mart representative Mona Williams is quoted as saying: “Julie didn’t tell the truth about the inappropriate relationship with one of her [subordinates]. Despite these denials, Wal-Mart now has “irrefutable and admissible evidence of the relationship” between Roehm and Womack. “I would not tell you this if we didn’t know it was true.”

In the article, Roehm said the evidence Wal-Mart claims to have is a personal e-mail exchanged outside of the company system. Though she did not elaborate on what that e-mail contains, Roehm has insisted that her relationship with Womack was friendly, but not romantic in nature. (Romantic relationships between employees violate Wal-Mart policy.)

Williams could be reached today for comment.

Wal-Mart rep John Simley said the company is not backing away from Williams’ statement.

“She does stand behind those statements and they do reflect the company’s position,” Simley said.

Williams also claims in the story that Roehm violated company policy by unfairly favoring DraftFCB in its seven-month search for a new ad agency.

According to Williams, Roehm’s favoritism included accepting gifts and “raising the issue of potential employment” for Womack at DraftFCB before the selection process was completed. Roehm also denies this claim.

Contacted by Adweek on Thursday, Roehm said only that she stands by her statements to New York but offered no further comment.

DraftFCB, an Interpublic Group shop in Chicago, was dismissed in December shortly after winning the business, and the estimated $570 million account re-bid. The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., also an IPG shop, prevailed in the second contest, which finished in January.

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