Bias suit against MSL goes on despite Tsokanos departure

Plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit against MSLGroup and parent Publicis Groupe are taking a wait-and-see approach following Jim Tsokanos' departure from the agency.

Plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit against MSLGroup and parent Publicis Groupe are taking a wait-and-see approach following Jim Tsokanos' departure from the agency.

“It's too soon to tell” whether Tsokanos' exit will affect the suit, said the plaintiffs' lead counsel Janette Wipper.

MSL promoted Renee Wilson to president of North America last week, replacing Tsokanos. Wilson will oversee MSL's operations in the US and Canada.

Monique da Silva, a former healthcare director at MSL, filed the $100 million class action suit against MSL and Publicis in February 2011 seeking to represent women who worked at the agency from 2008 until the date of judgment. It alleges that the agency and holding company paid female professionals less; did not promote women at the same rate as male counterparts, and conducted discriminatory demotions, terminations, and reassignments for female staffers during the firm's 2009 reorganization. Court documents filed in the suit describe senior male executives at the firm, including Tsokanos and Washington MD Neil Dhillon, behaving in a derogatory manner towards female employees.

On August 16, plaintiffs in the lawsuit mailed notices inviting current and former female employees of MSL to join the action. Once other potential plaintiffs opt into the class, MSL and Publicis can try to decertify the suit by arguing there was no widespread discrimination.

In response to the allegations, MSL has said it will “continue to defend vigorously against all the plaintiffs' claims and looks forward to persuading the court to dismiss...just as the [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] dismissed them in 2010.”

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