Former Ad Agency Executive Alleges Discrimination and Wrongful Termination
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UPDATED: Jun 21, 2016
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The former president of ad agency RAPP United States, Greg Anderson, has sued his former employer alleging discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination.
Anderson alleges that RAPP CEO Alexei Orlov “created a hostile work environment” and acted in a discriminatory manner toward women and various racial and ethic groups. Anderson claims that he complained about Orlov’s behavior to the human resources and legal departments, but RAPP failed to take appropriate action and instead fired him in retaliation.
Allegations of Discrimination and Harassment
Anderson claims that Orlov would refer to women as “fat cows” and that he refused to promote a woman that he was grooming for a senior role because she was “too pretty” and “no one would take her seriously.” Anderson also alleges that Orlov told a Jewish employee that he was “miserly with money.” According to the suit, Orlov asked an employee who was working on the agency’s Pfizer account to obtain Viagra for him, claiming he needed it because he had a young wife.
Anderson claims he witnessed another RAPP leader sexually harass a female employee, drunkenly speculating that she wasn’t wearing any underwear. When Anderson reported this to Orlov, he allegedly dismissed this by stating, “I do not want to see this man’s demise.”
Retaliation and Wrongful Termination
Anderson describes Orlov as “vindictive” and describes a meeting where Orlov warned a group of 70 people “Mess with my brand or my direction and I will break off your finger and shove it up your ass.” Anderson claims that many RAPP employees were afraid of Orlov. He asserts that he encouraged other employees to file complaints about Orlov, which led to him losing his job. Sources claim that Omnicrom conducted an internal investigation of 19 complaints made against Orlov, but no action was taken.
Anderson claims he was terminated after returning from a vacation in April after nearly three years with RAPP. Prior to serving as president of RAPP United States, Anderson served as managing director of its Los Angeles office and as CEO of Bartle Bogle Hegarty New York.
Orlov became the CEO of RAPP in 2014. He joined RAPP from Volkswagen Group, where he served as CMO, Greater China & ASEAN Region. He previously served as executive at Interpublic Group and WPP’s Wunderman.
The lawsuit names RAPP Worldwide and Rapp Worldwide California as defendants. RAPP is a part of Diversified Agency Services, which is a division of Omnicom Group.
RAPP stated, “RAPP is aware that Greg Andersen has filed a complaint and denies that any unlawful conduct occurred. Mr. Anderson’s position with RAPP was eliminated and we are not able to comment further. RAPP has, and enforces, policies prohibiting discrimination and retaliation on the basis of gender, race, age, disability, sexual orientation or any other legally protected status.”
Andersen is seeking damages related to retaliation in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), discrimination in violation of FEHA, failure to prevent discrimination and retaliation, retaliation in violation of the California Labor Code, and wrongful termination in violation of public policy.