Interpublic Group has asked a U.S. District Court Judge in New York to dismiss a racial discrimination lawsuit against the company by longtime legal staffer Joy Noel.
The company alleged in court papers filed this week that Noel’s charges are nothing more than “mean-spirited falsehoods” that would actually be grounds for a defamation lawsuit
if the charges had been made outside the context of a lawsuit.
Noel originally filed suit in spring 2012 and Judge Harold Baer Jr. threw out her complaint later in the year calling her charges a “variety of broad but meatless allegations."
However Baer offered Noel the opportunity to re-file, focusing on a retaliation claim and an allegation that IPG unlawfully passed
her over for promotion. Noel re-filed her suit in late December.
IPG noted that Noel remains an employee of the company, where she has worked for 18 years. She has “not been terminated, demoted or treated in any adverse way,” the holding company asserted. What Noel objects to is that IPG “selected a more qualified internal candidate as an executive assistant to the General Counsel, but despite repeated opportunities to attempt to do so cannot link that decision to her race.”
IPG noted that Noel filed a complaint about her being passed over for that job to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which, “after investigation, found no cause.” Noel’s second suit, like the first, IPG argued, “is brimming with conclusory accusations that have absolutely no factual basis.”
The company and the employees named in the suit “at all times were motivated by legitimate non-discriminatory
and non-retaliatory business reasons.”
Noel claimed in a second suit that she was unlawfully passed over for the position of executive assistant to IPG General Counsel Nicholas Camera when the position became available in March 2011. She also alleged that it was former associate general counsel Marjorie Hoey’s decision to pass her over and that Hoey, described in the suit as a “Caucasian female,” has “never promoted [Noel] or any other person of color to a front office position."
Wrong, countered IPG, asserting that Noel’s charge against Hoey “is based on nothing more than plaintiff’s own incorrect belief and supposition.” Noel, the company stated, “does not assert a single fact” to support her claim that Hoey participated in either the interview or selection process, “let alone that Hoey or anyone else made a decision on the basis of plaintiff’s race or color.”
Noel also alleged that the person who was selected for the job, Theresa Muller, was “not qualified for the position because of her past poor performance as an employee.” The complaint did not describe in detail Muller's lack of qualifications. IPG countered that Noel’s allegation “lacks support because there is none.” The company added that “Muller has a stellar record of performance at IPG, where she has worked for many years and which continues to this day.”
Noel said in her complaint that Muller didn’t last long in the position and that she was replaced by an African-American female not named in the suit. That too is “blatantly false,” IPG said, adding that Noel, as an employee of the company, knows that to be the case. Making such a careless or “deliberate bad faith representation” to the court is "sanctionable,” IPG said. In fact, Muller remains in the position and her performance “has been excellent."