Calls for a “a big swinging dick” underpins class claims of bias against women

A significant gender discrimination lawsuit recently reached a proposed settlement of $3 million for 101 women working for Publicis group. The lawsuit grew out of concern by women about the public relations giant’s practices concerning equal pay, promotion and opportunities, as well as specific allegations of open gender inequity.

Specific claims by the lead plaintiff include her own allegations that she was denied equal pay and opportunities for promotion within the company, despite her 13 years of employment. Further accusations centered on the company’s U.S. president, Jim Tsokanos, who allegedly made inappropriate comments on a regular basis, including his purported announcement that he “need[ed] a big swinging dick to lead the Midwest” while searching for a candidate to fill the head position for the Midwest region.

The allegations further detailed concerns that he remained in his position even after numerous complaints from female employees, including that he

  • constantly commented on the appearance of female workers;
  • discussed “the looks” of female employees in company meetings;
  • routinely took young female employees out for drinks and socializing; and
  • publically made an inappropriate comment in relation to his genitals.

Upon reaching the proposed $3 million settlement, attorneys submitted the agreement to District Court, where it is pending approval. If granted, the company will save significant costs on further litigation.  In addition, the settlement agreement contains no determination about the company’s actions and no directive for changes to the policies. The defendants do not admit or deny any guilt, and in a public statement, representatives also assert that all company policies are lawful and free from discriminatory intent.

For questions about the settlement of this class action suit or concerns about practices at your own place of employment, contact our office to speak with a knowledgeable attorney.