J. Walter Thompson worldwide chairman and CEO Gustavo Martinez has denied allegations made in an employee’s lawsuit that he frequently joked about raping female staffers and made racist comments in public.
"I am aware of the allegations made against me by a J. Walter Thompson employee in a suit filed in New York Federal Court. I want to assure our clients and my colleagues that there is absolutely no truth to these outlandish allegations, and I am confident that this will be proven in court," he said in a written statement issued by WPP Group.
The lawsuit, filed by worldwide communications director Erin Johnson, claims that Martinez complained about "fucking Jews" and called black people "monkeys" in front of employees. He also made repeated rape jokes focused on Johnson and other female staffers, said the suit, originally reported by the New York Post.
"Come here so I can rape you in the bathroom," Martinez allegedy said before grabbing Johnson’s neck and laughing. In another incident, he allegedly told employees he would avoid the "black monkeys" and "apes" at airport customs because they "don’t know how to use computers."
Johnson, who has been with the WPP agency since 2005, remains with the company, according to sources. She did not immediately return a call for comment.
Martinez recently celebrated his one-year anniversary in the chief executive position.
Johnson filed the suit in federal court in Manhattan on Thursday, and is seeking unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.
See also: Et tu, Gustavo?