Gustavo Martinez has officially parted ways with J. Walter Thompson (JWT) and parent company WPP two months after settling a sexual harassment case brought by a female colleague.
A WPP spokesperson has said Martinez has left the company.
“Gustavo Martinez and WPP have agreed it is in the best interests of both parties for him to pursue his career outside the group,” said a WPP spokesperson.
Martinez’s departure precedes a meeting of WPP’s AGM scheduled for this week, the first since Sir Martin Sorrell’s exit, himself under a cloud of “personal misconduct”.
The action was brought against Martinez, the one-time global CEO, by then JWT head of communications Erin Johnson.
Johnson filed the sexual harassment lawsuit against both JWT and Martinez in 2016, citing Martinez’s “unending stream of racist and sexist comments” as her motivation for opening the case.
The lawsuit came to an end when both parties agreed to settle for an undisclosed sum.
The case captivated the global communications industry since the case was first filed in the Court of the Southern District of New York on March 10, 2016, thereby making the case public.
After the settlement, a JWT spokesperson said, “[JWT has] reached an amicable settlement agreement with Erin Johnson, chief communications officer of the J. Walter Thompson company, in the Johnson vs. J. Walter Thompson lawsuit.
“The terms of the agreement are confidential and will not be disclosed.”
Meanwhile, Johnson released a public statement of her own after the settlement which read, “The past few years have been challenging to say the least, and I am grateful for the love and encouragement from family, friends and those of you in the industry who spoke up and offered support. Thank you,”
“Most importantly, I would like to thank Anne Vladeck, Debra Raskin and Jeremiah Iadevaia at Vladeck, Raskin & Clark—a brilliant legal team and force to be reckoned with. I hope that my personal experience will encourage others to speak up and follow their convictions.
“Moving forward, I wish Tam (JWT CEO Tamara Ingram) and the JWT team success.”
Although Johnson resigned after the settlement, Martinez remained employed by WPP as a ‘country representative’ for Spain.
Martinez was global CEO and chairman of JWT from January 2015 until April 2016.
After initially standing by the CEO, who was widely seen as a rising star within the holding group, WPP announced Martinez’s resignation a week after news of the suit went public and promoted WPP chief client team officer Ingram to replace him.
Johnson’s legal team later released video of Martinez joking about rape at an agency meeting.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement gaining momentum, industry figures have commented that they hope this is the last time allegations of sexual misconduct within the industry will be dealt with under a shroud of mystery.
There is some speculation that Martinez’s departure will be seen as an inflexion point for the industry as its largest company cleans up its act.
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