Advertising Giant MLSGroup Disseminates False Information on its Website in an Effort to Dissuade its Female Employees From Joining Nationwide Gender Discrimination Collective Action

Posted July 6th, 2012.

For more information, contact Jamie Moss, newsPRos, 201-493-1027, 201-788-0142 (cell); or Jaime Baum, newsPRos, 847-502-3825.

(July 6, 2012 New York, NY) – In a public statement yesterday on MSLGroup’s website, the Company falsely claimed that U.S. District Court Judge Andrew L. Carter’s June 29, 2012 order granting conditional certification “was a procedural ruling only and not unexpected” and that the Court had “made no decision as to whether the case may proceed as a class action.” The website also erroneously states that the EEOC dismissed plaintiffs’ claims in 2010.

Judge Carter’s ruling was not simply procedural. Rather, in his written opinion, the Judge decided that plaintiffs had provided “sufficient information that because of a common pay scale, [plaintiffs] were paid lower than the wages paid to men for the performance of substantially equal work.” In making this ruling, Judge Carter relied on the findings of plaintiffs’ statistical expert, Dr. Janice Madden, that female VPs and SVPs at Publicis Groupe were paid 8.5% to 11.2% less annually than male VPs and SVPs. The judge also stated he was ordering notice of conditional certification to be sent to over a hundred of the Company’s current and former female Vice Presidents and Senior Vice Presidents, so that they could join the class.

“We are disappointed that MSLGroup has mischaracterized the Court’s ruling on its website,” said Janette Wipper, a partner at Sanford Wittels & Heisler, and the plaintiffs’ lead counsel. “MSL’s misleading public statements about Judge Carter’s ruling are further examples of the Company’s tactics to intimidate its female employees from standing up for their rights to equal pay and promotions, and to avoid taking responsibility for its systemic job discrimination against women,” explained Ms. Wipper.

MSLGroup’s assertion that the decision was expected and simply procedural is false. MSLGroup and Publicis Groupe consistently argued that plaintiffs could not obtain conditional certification and that it would be “unprecedented” for Judge Carter to order such relief. The very first line of the papers MSLGroup submitted to the Court on March 19, 2012, claims: “Plaintiffs ask this Court to make an unprecedented ruling….” The papers go on to state that “federal courts have conditionally certified fewer than ten [Equal Pay Act] cases in nearly 50 years….” MSLGroup and its parent, Publicis Groupe, fought Plaintiffs’ motion with fervor, hoping for a win. They certainly conveyed to the Court that ordering certification would be an unexpected result with a significant impact on the lawsuit. MSLGroup hired an MIT-educated expert in hopes of refuting Plaintiffs’ statistical evidence in support of conditional certification.

Finally, MSL’s assertion that the EEOC dismissed plaintiffs’ claims is patently untrue. Steven Wittels, counsel for the plaintiffs and the class stated: “MSLGroup and Publicis Groupe are clearly putting their PR spin on the EEOC process. Their attorneys know that the EEOC granted Ms. da Silva Moore the right to proceed with a lawsuit against the companies – the exact opposite of a dismissal. We will not stand silent while MSLGroup’s tries to chill participation in the lawsuit from women whose rights to equal pay and equal job treatment have been violated. MSL’s false assertions about Judge Carter’s ruling are simply further examples of the Company’s anti-female bias.”

The plaintiffs and the class are represented by Janette Wipper, Steven Wittels, Siham Nurhussein, and Deepika Bains of Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP. In 2010, Sanford Wittels & Heisler settled the nation’s largest gender discrimination class action, after winning a $253 million verdict from a federal jury in New York.

About Sanford Wittels & Heisler, LLP
Sanford Wittels & Heisler is a law firm with offices in Washington, D.C., New York, and San Francisco that specializes in employment discrimination, wage and hour, qui tam and consumer actions and complex corporate class action litigation and has represented thousands of individuals in major class action cases in the United States. The firm also represents individual clients in employment, employment discrimination, sexual harassment, whistleblower, public accommodations, commercial, medical malpractice, and personal injury matters. In May 2010, the firm won the largest jury award in the U.S. in a gender discrimination employment class action when a jury returned a verdict of $253 million in compensatory and punitive damages against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation. In May 2012, SWH won final court approval to settle a wage and hour case on behalf of sales reps employed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals for $99 million. For more information, contact Sanford Wittels & Heisler at (415) 795-2020.

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