A lawsuit has been filed in federal court that claims a J. Walter Thompson's chairman makes "constant racist and sexist slurs" that demean many minorities including African Americans, members of the Jewish community and females, and the agency has allegedly retaliated against a female executive for complaining about the chairman’s behavior toward her. In the lawsuit she claims that the chairman inappropriately touched her, and bit into an apple she was eating before returning the apple to her on more than one occasion. The lawsuit seeks unspecified back pay, punitive damages and other remedies for the female executive.
The Complaint states that the chairman “has no hesitation” when it comes to making offensive comments. The lawsuit alleges the chairman has made "numerous" remarks about rape and once stated in front of other workers that a female executive should come near him "so I can rape you in the bathroom," and the accused chairman has complained about female employees he deemed to be "too sensitive" or "too bossy.” The allegations in the lawsuit also accuse him of calling a few airport customs agents "black monkeys" and "apes," and he is known to complain about "too many" Jewish people where he lives in New York.
The lawsuit said JWT responded to Johnson's repeated complaints by reducing her pay and responsibilities, before putting her on paid leave last month.
The chairman commented that he is aware of the allegations and looks forward to the opportunity to provide proof defending against the allegations in legal proceedings. The chairman released a statement saying: "I want to assure both our clients and my colleagues that I believe I lead this company with a collaborative and collegial style and did not create the kind of working environment that has been described in the complaint."
According to the ad agency’s website, clients include many well-known companies such as Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Nestle and Wal-Mart.