Race/Gender Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, Hostile Work Environment, Retaliation Lawsuit Against J. Walter Thompson and Gustavo Martinez

In a recent complaint, captioned Johnson v. J. Walter Thompson U.S.A., LLC et al, SDNY 16-cv-01805 filed March 10, 2016, plaintiff asserts various employment-related claims – including gender discrimination, race discrimination, hostile work environment, sexual harassment, and retaliation – against J. Walter Thompson and its Chair/CEO Gustavo Martinez.

Among the disturbing allegations:

Despite Johnson’s success as an award-winning public relations executive, Martinez has made it impossible for her to do her job. Presenting JWT both internally and externally in a positive light has become virtually impossible given Martinez’s apparent comfort in making constant racist and sexist slurs, even on tape. Martinez has no hesitation in referring in conversations with employees, including senior JWT executives, or the media, to his dislike of the “fucking Jews,” his refusal to go places where he would encounter the “black monkeys” or “apes” who “don’t know how to use computers,” or to his publicly asked question about which female staff member he should rape. On multiple occasions, Martinez has grabbed Johnson by the throat or by the back of her neck while talking to her. He has also asked other employees to leave his office for him to be alone with Johnson so they could talk about “the sex.” In the presence of others, Martinez has exclaimed, “Come here [Johnson], so I can rape you in the bathroom.” During a company meeting with more than 60 employees, including the Chief Talent Officer (who is the global head of Human Resources for JWT), Martinez distinguished between good rape and rape “not in a nice way.” He regularly demeans female executives, especially those women he believes are “too American,” “too sensitive,” and “too bossy.” Martinez has said multiple times that certain women should “shut up [their] mouths” and, on information and belief, said that a female executive he disliked needed to be “hogtied” and “raped into submission.”

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