Omnicom, DDB Seek Dismissal of $20 Million Sex Harassment Suit

Omnicom and its agency DDB, which were sued in May by DDB Creative Director Matthew Christiansen for sexual harassment, have told a U.S. District Judge in New York that the firms intend to file a motion for dismissal of the case in its entirety.

Also named in the suit are former and current agency CEOs Peter Hempel and Chris Brown, respectively, and Chief Digital Officer Joe Cianciotto. Omnicom, DDB, Hempel and Brown are represented by Davis &  Gilbert attorney Daniel Feinstein. In a letter to Judge Katherine Polk Failla dated June 24, Feinstein cited numerous grounds for the dismissal.

In his complaint, Christiansen said he been damaged “in an amount exceeding $20 million," and was “emotionally and physically paralyzed with fear as a gay man being discriminated by his own supervisor,” Cianciotto. Hempel and Brown are named in the suit for allegedly failing to do anything about the harassment that the plaintiff claims took place. 



In his letter to Judge Failla, Feinstein said many of Christiansen’s causes of action were time-barred, given that they occurred between 2011 and 2013. Feinstein also told the judge that the plaintiff’s claim under the Americans With Disabilities Act (Christiansen stated in his complaint that he is HIV-positive) must be dismissed for failure to exhaust all administrative remedies.

The claims against Omnicom don’t hold up, Feinstein argued, because the plaintiff has “failed to allege any facts demonstrating that Omnicom is Plaintiff’s employer for the purposes of liability.” Claims against Hempel and Brown must be thrown out, the attorney added, because “there are simply no allegations of fact supporting the claim that Hempel or Brown were involved in, or aided and abetted, any alleged discriminatory conduct against Plaintiff.”

In a separate letter filed this week, attorney Rick Ostrove of Leeds Brown Law told Judge Failla that his client, Cianciotto, would also seek dismissal of the case on many of the same grounds cited by the other defendants.

Judge Failla has scheduled a pre-motion conference for later this month. 

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