J. Walter Thompson, ex-CEO reject accuser's bias claims
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK May 20 (Reuters) - Lawyers for former J. Walter Thompson chief executive Gustavo Martinez on Friday struck back against a high-ranking colleague who accused him of sexist and racist behavior, saying her high-profile lawsuit failed to show a hostile work environment at the advertising agency.
In papers filed with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, lawyers for Martinez and J. Walter Thompson said chief communications officer Erin Johnson based her case on sporadic, "isolated" comments, including references to rape and sex, that she took out of context or which had nothing to do with her.
They said Johnson failed to show her bonus and duties were cut in retaliation for complaints about gender bias and Martinez's alleged "unwanted touching," and faulted her for appearing to have bypassed the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before suing.
"It is clear that plaintiff has twisted the facts and distorted the context to contrive a gender-based hostile work environment and retaliation claims," wrote lawyers for J. Walter Thompson, a unit of Britain's WPP Plc.
Jeremiah Iadevaia, a lawyer for Johnson, said his firm was reviewing the defendants' papers.
"It appears that they are making technical legal arguments in order to avoid a review on the merits in court," he said in an interview.
Johnson remains on paid leave, Iadevaia added.
Martinez, an Argentina native raised in Spain, resigned as J. Walter Thompson's chief executive on March 17, one week after Johnson sued. He was replaced by WPP chief client team officer Tamara Ingram. Continuación...