WPP moves to dismiss 'frivolous' Johnson discrimination suit

Erin Johnson "twisted the facts and distorted the context" of former JWT CEO Gustavo Martinez's behavior, say lawyers.

WPP CEO Martin Sorrell (l) and Erin Johnson
WPP CEO Martin Sorrell (l) and Erin Johnson

NEW YORK: Lawyers for WPP and J. Walter Thompson on Friday filed a motion to dismiss the discrimination lawsuit brought by Erin Johnson against them and former JWT chief executive Gustavo Martinez, saying she twisted facts and took Martinez’s statements out of context to "make a splash with the media."
"[I]t is clear that plaintiff has twisted the facts and distorted the context to contrive gender-based hostile work environment and retaliation claims," the motion read.
Today’s 31-page filing, from law firm of Davis & Gilbert, also claims that Johnson, JWT’s chief communications officer, failed to satisfy the legal requirements of the statutes under which she filed. Johnson was not denied equal pay as a man because she complained about her working conditions, nor was she made to suffer as a result of her own race, the suit says.
"Defendants are moving now to dismiss the complaint in its entirety," the motion said.
A lawyer for Johnson took issue with the motion, saying its portrayal of Martinez’s behavior as inoffensive — a characterization supported by affidavits from JWT executives — set too high a bar for employees seeking redress.
"They are suggesting a type of over-the-top requirement that I don’t think there is any support for," said Anne Vladeck of Vladeck, Raskin & Clark. "And the fact that some of the people didn’t find Martinez’s comments offensive doesn’t mean that a jury might not take a different view, particularly since that jury is not on their payroll."

This story originally appeared on Campaign.

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