More Female Execs May Join the MSLGroup Gender Discrimination Case

While there has been some good news at MSLGroup, there has been some very troublesome news from the firm as well. Namely, the gender discrimination class action lawsuit that was filed last year. Monique da Silva, a former global healthcare director with the firm, filed suit based on allegations that women were frequently overlooked for promotions, were not given the pay they were due, and other charges. The plaintiffs are seeking $100 million.

At that time, MSLGroup told PRNewser in a statement: “We generally do not comment on pending litigation, but we can say that the fact that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission dismissed Ms. da Silva charge reflects the lack of merit to her claims.” However, it looks like a judge begs to differ.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter, Jr. has ruled that current and former VPs and SVPs will now be able to join the case. Business Insider went into some of the details of the allegations from the case, some of them more than a little disturbing.

They include charges that executives at the firm, including the U.S. president of the firm, Jim Tsokanos, used offensive language when referring to women at the firm and engaged in other inappropriate behavior.

“In his new role, Tsokanos continues to make comments about the appearance of female employees often discussing their ‘looks’ in front of other employees and during meetings. He is also known to take young female employees out for drinks frequently,” BI quotes the lawsuit.  (Note: I worked for MSLGroup for 10 months between 2009 and 2010 but I have nothing at all to do with any of these allegations or the lawsuit.)

“We will continue to defend vigorously against all the plaintiffs’ claims and we look forward to persuading the court to dismiss them, just as the Equal Opportunities Commission dismissed them in 2010. MSLGroup has always been and remains an organization committed to women and all employees in the workplace,” reads a statement a spokesperson from the firm made to the website.

After the judge’s ruling, the plaintiffs’ law firm, Sanford Wittels & Heisler LLP, issued a press release, which was quickly followed by a statement from MSLGroup. In it, MSLGroup plays down the significance of the ruling, calling it “a procedural ruling only and not unexpected.” The statement also says there were inaccuracies in the release. Most of the inaccuracies that the agency points out amount to decisions on a variety of matters in the case that they say haven’t been made just yet.
SWH has, of course, hit back with its own press release disputing statements in MSLGroup’s response.
Judging from the timeline laid out by MSLGroup, this is a case that will go on for years. In the meantime, the allegations are incredibly damaging to the reputations of both to the firm and to the executives running it.