Agency JWT Was Discriminatory in Cutting 5 Straight, White, Male Workers, U.K. Ruling Says

Pictured – Random assortment of ‘straight white men

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NOTE – J. Walter Thompson was an advertisement holding company incorporated in 1896 by American advertising pioneer James Walter Thompson.

The case was filed in 2018 before JWT became part of Wunderman Thompson.

A U.K. tribunal has ruled against former creative agency JWT, now part of Wunderman Thompson, in a case that claimed five men lost their jobs as part of the agency’s drive toward more diverse staffing.

The case was brought in 2018 by two of the U.K.-based men who were made redundant by the agency, creative director Chas Bayfield and his colleague Dave Jenner, who both claimed they were released because they were straight, white and male.

The departures followed not long after Jo Wallace, creative director at the agency, made the comment on stage at an industry conference that she wanted to “obliterate” the agency’s reputation for being full of white, privileged, straight men.

Speaking on behalf of the claimants, Adrian Scotland, a managing partner at legal firm Judge Sykes Frixou, confirmed to Adweek that the case had been settled in their favor on July 5 with the ruling that they had been discriminated against following the comments made during the conference.

The decision was reached after a hearing in February, but damages have not yet been awarded. Scotland said he hoped that the payment terms would be outlined within the next three months and also said the agency will have around 40 days to appeal should it wish to do so.

This was not the only legal case JWT faced around that time. In 2016, JWT CEO Gustavo Martinez was the subject of a discrimination lawsuit filed by the agency’s global chief communications officer, Erin Johnson, who accused Martinez of using racist language and making jokes about rape. After two years of litigation, the case was settled in Johnson’s favor, and within months, Martinez had left the agency.

JWT has since been merged within another part of the WPP holding company of agencies and now operates as Wunderman Thompson.

Adweek has reached out to the claimants and Wunderman Thomson, and this story will be updated if either responds about the latest tribunal decision.

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