Jessica Goodfellow
Nov 15, 2019

WPP settles lawsuit with former Team Red MD Carmel Williamson

Carmel Williamson alleged that a "boys club" culture within WPP contributed toward her being discriminated against and needing psychological treatment.

Carmel Williamson (Image from LinkedIn)
Carmel Williamson (Image from LinkedIn)

WPP has “amicably resolved” a lawsuit brought forward by the former managing director of WPP’s Team Red, Carmel Williamson, who sought more than AUD$400,000 (US$272,000) for damages relating to misleading and deceptive conduct, unfair dismissal and emotional distress.

A WPP AUNZ spokesperson confirmed today (15 November) that the issues raised by Williamson “have been amicably resolved by both parties” and that “further legal action will not be proceeding”.

In legal documents filed with the Federal Circuit Court in Australia earlier this year, Williamson alleged that there was a “boys club” culture within WPP, that led to her being treated differently and discriminated against as a young (she was 35 years-old at the time she held the position) and female manager.

She said she was subject to “unsupportive and undermining behaviour” and wasn’t given the adequate support for Team Red that she was promised. She alleged that J. Walter Thompson was due to send 11 members of staff over to Team Red, but only two transferred. She also noted that her time at the WPP agency and her subsequent dismissal led to her suffering from various medical issues, leading her to see a psychologist.

Williamson was dismissed from her role as managing director of Team Red, the agency created to manage the Vodafone account, in August last year after just six months in the role.

Williamson argued she was unfairly dismissed, but WPP argued that Williamson was dismissed because “she lost the confidence of the principal client of the agency she was appointed to manage” — Vodafone.

The case was brought against WPP and Paul Everson, managing director of WPP creative agency Wunderman Thompson (which was J Walter Thompson at the time of the allegations).

WPP representatives and Williamson met in court in October and have now reached a settlement.

The full statement from WPP AUNZ:

WPP AUNZ can confirm that issues raised by former executive, Ms Carmel Williamson have been amicably resolved by both parties. On that basis, further legal action will not be proceeding.

WPP AUNZ took Ms Williamson’s allegations seriously given its deep commitment to diversity at board, executive and employee level.

WPP AUNZ thanks Ms Williamson for her service in connection with establishing the Team Red business in Australia as Managing Director. Ms Williamson is grateful to WPP AUNZ for the opportunity to be part of its diverse and talented leadership group.

Both WPP AUNZ and Ms Williamson are now focussed on moving forward with their respective business interests. The parties will be making no further comment.

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