W2O faces gender discrimination suit from former staffer Lynn Fox

Lynn Fox is suing W2O. She was laid off in March, seven months after the agency network bought her San Francisco-based boutique, Fox Communications.

SAN FRANCISCO: Lynn Fox, who formerly led media and engagement as an MD in the technology practice of WCG, has filed a lawsuit against parent W2O Group alleging gender discrimination and unfair dismissal.

Fox joined WCG last August, when her San Francisco boutique Fox Communications was acquired by W2O. On March 24, she was laid off. Fox filed the lawsuit on July 28 in San Francisco County.

Fox’s lawsuit alleges she was discriminated against on the basis on her gender. She also claims W2O failed to take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination, even after she alerted defendants to multiple incidents of hostile and discriminatory practices towards herself and other women at the company.

The suit also alleges Fox was wrongly terminated on the basis of her sex and in retaliation for making complaints about discrimination, according to court documents obtained by PRWeek.

Additionally, the suit claims Fox "experienced and heard commentary that reflected a bias toward women in general and working mothers specifically" and that she was "subjected to harassing behavior by a male superior."

"The recent uptick in gender discrimination cases in advertising and PR tells the story much better than I can," she said. "I'd like to thank all the plaintiffs before me for taking the first steps on this long path toward real equality for women."

W2O Group COO and head of client service Jennifer Gottlieb said the firm has not been served with the complaint.

"We have always treated [Fox] fairly and see no merit in any claim she might bring," Gottlieb added. "In as much as this is a personnel matter, we will have no further comment."

W2O reps declined to comment on why Fox was laid off only a few months after she was hired.

Previously, Fox served as Twitter’s director of communications for five months. She also held senior comms roles at Apple and Google, according to her LinkedIn page.

Fox’s suit is the latest in a spate of gender discrimination issues throughout the PR and broader marketing industries. Earlier this month, Kevin Roberts resigned as Saatchi & Saatchi's executive chairman following remarks that the gender diversity debate was "over" at his agency. In March, J. Walter Thompson CEO Gustavo Martinez resigned after a lawsuit filed by the agency’s chief communications officer alleged he made racist and sexist comments that made it "impossible for her to do her job." MSLGroup and parent company Publicis Groupe reached a settlement with plaintiffs in a long-running gender discrimination lawsuit against the firm last October.

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