PHILADELPHIA: Merav Perlstein, a former VP and senior strategic planner at Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare, is suing her former company and several other Publicis Groupe firms, claiming she was let go due to racial and religious discrimination.
Perlstein began working at Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare in 2009, first as a contractor on an as-needed basis because she had her own advertising business at the time, according to documents filed in US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The following year, she began to work regularly at the firm and was ultimately offered a full-time salaried position in exchange for shuttering her own business. Saatchi also agreed to employ Perlstein through at least the end of 2011, according to the documents. She accepted the terms.
In late 2010, Annemarie Armstrong joined Saatchi as an MD, and a few months later told Perlstein she was being let go due to budget issues. When Perlstein asked why she was being laid off instead of another employee with less experience but doing comparable work, Armstrong allegedly told her it was because the other employee “was a better fit” and that it “may be a cultural issue.”
The court records indicate that the other employee was born in the US, was not ethnically or cultural Jewish, and did not speak with an accent.
According to court documents, Perlstein is seeking reinstatement to the firm, back pay, and various other monetary penalties. Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare Innovations, Publicis Healthcare Communications Group, Publicis Groupe SA, and Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare Communications are named as defendants in the suit.
Last year, she settled a lawsuit with many of the same defendants over unpaid overtime. In exchange for an undisclosed sum, that case was dismissed with prejudice.
Rosemary Abendroth, SVP and global communications director for Publicis Healthcare Communications Group, said the company could not comment on pending litigation. A phone message for Armstrong was not returned.
Perlstein did not return a request for comment. Her attorney, Scott Goldshaw of Salmanson Goldshaw PC, declined to comment since litigation is pending. A pre-trial conference is set for May 1.
Saatchi sister agency MSLGroup and parent Publicis Groupe are facing a class-action lawsuit claiming gender pay discrimination against women.