JWT comms chief Erin Johnson returns to work at agency

An internal email from CEO Tamara Ingram announced longtime employee Erin Johnson's November return to J. Walter Thompson.

NEW YORK: Erin Johnson, the chief communications officer who filed an explosive discrimination lawsuit against former J. Walter Thompson CEO and Chairman Gustavo Martinez, WPP, and the agency in March, will return to the agency on November 2, according to an internal email sent by CEO Tamara Ingram.

"I want to let you know that Erin Johnson has decided to return to J. Walter Thompson from her leave of absence," wrote Ingram in the email. "She is rejoining us tomorrow, Wednesday, November 2, and will report directly to me. She will sit on the 4th floor, in our New York office. Please join me in welcoming her back."

Johnson has been on paid leave since filing her lawsuit on March 10. The issue of her return had become a point of contention in the lawsuit, with WPP lawyers claiming she had refused invitations to return to work, and Johnson’s lawyers saying no invite had been extended.

Neither Johnson nor her lawyers could immediately be reached for comment. A spokesperson for JWT confirmed that Johnson would be returning on Wednesday.

Martinez resigned one week after the lawsuit was filed, and was replaced by Ingram, previously WPP’s chief client officer. Martinez continues to work on projects for WPP.

In her lawsuit, which is ongoing, Johnson claimed that Martinez subjected her to a constant stream of racist and sexist behavior, including talk about whether he should "rape" a female member of staff "into submission." He allegedly referred to black people as "monkeys" and complained about Jews in front of staff. On a video recorded at a 2015 agency retreat, Martinez is seen joking about being raped to a roomful of JWT staff.

Both sides in the lawsuit are awaiting U.S. District Court Judge Paul Oetken’s ruling on whether it can proceed to discovery and trial.

This article first appeared on PRWeek sister title Campaign US

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