Suit: Top Ad Agency CEO Made Extreme Rape Threats

Gustavo Martinez allegedly spoke of raping female employees
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2016 8:00 AM CST
Suit: Top Ad Agency CEO Made Extreme Rape Threats
Gustavo Martinez   (J. Walter Thompson)

A CEO of one of the world's most prominent ad agencies—an agency the New York Post points out creates diversity campaigns for Fortune 500 companies—is at the center of a gender discrimination lawsuit that alleges he subjected employees "to an unending stream of racist and sexist comments as well as unwanted touching and other unlawful conduct," the Guardian reports. The complaint against J. Walter Thompson's Gustavo Martinez was filed by Erin Johnson, who has worked for the agency for more than 10 years. She claims Martinez—who ascended to the CEO's chair in January 2015—once said to her in front of co-workers, "Come here, so I can rape you in the bathroom" before grabbing her by the neck and laughing. That same day, she alleges he interrupted a meeting and asked Johnson which female staff member he could rape.

There are more allegations regarding Martinez and women, and the suit also claims he made racist remarks, such as referring to airport workers as "black monkeys" and "apes." Johnson says in the suit that when she brought his behavior to light, to both JWT and parent company WPP, she was suddenly left out of top-level meetings and had her bonus decreased by Martinez. Martinez says in a statement: "I want to assure our clients and my colleagues that there is absolutely no truth to these outlandish allegations." WPP reportedly issued a memo to senior execs at JWT that said it has been looking into the claims since Feb. 25 and has "found nothing as yet to substantiate these charges," per Ad Age. Johnson, meanwhile, is on paid leave from JWT, which counts Ford, Johnson & Johnson, Avon, and the US Marine Corps among its clients. (More lawsuit stories.)

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