JWT's Johnson: 'Rape Joke' Video Should Be Made Public Without Redactions

Attorneys for Erin Johnson, the JWT executive who is suing the agency and its former CEO Gustavo Martinez for sex harassment and retaliation, urged the U.S. District Judge hearing the case to make public the widely reported “rape joke” video that is currently in dispute without the redactions that the defendants are seeking.

The video contains comments made by then JWT CEO Martinez at a senior management meeting at Miami’s Viceroy hotel last year, in which he allegedly makes a joke about possibly being raped in an elevator “and not in a good way,” as well as other comments that the plaintiff has alleged were racist and offensive.

Two weeks ago, defendants -- which include JWT parent WPP -- argued that the video should be sealed due to privacy concerns for the numerous executives seen in it who are not named in the suit. Defendants also argued that Johnson was taking the comments out of context.



But earlier this week, in a follow-up pleading, defendants switched gears and declared that they would agree to having the video made a part of the case’s public record — if the faces of those seen in the video (other than Martinez’s) were blurred so as to be unrecognizable.

That would address the privacy concerns, the defendants asserted, while depositions from JWT employees in attendance support their position that no one there appeared to be offended by the remarks with the exception of Johnson.

But in a letter written today to Judge J. Paul Oetken, Johnson’s attorney, Anne C. Vladeck, slammed the defendants’ about-face as little more than insincere and time-wasting procedural maneuvering.

“If defendants had a genuine desire to reach a compromise regarding the video, they had ample opportunity to make such a proposal long before” their filing earlier this week, Vladeck wrote.

They have had a copy of the video for three weeks, she noted. “At no time, however, did defendants suggest that compromise regarding the video was possible.”

Vladeck also asserted that the faces of those in the video—particularly their responses to Martinez’s remarks -- were key to proving that Johnson had not distorted the former CEO’s comments or taken them out of context. “Defendants know that the video contradicts their contention that only plaintiff found Martinez’s purported joke about rape offensive,” she argued.

“The video shows that some audience members’ expressions do not reflect amusement as defendants suggest. The aspects of the video showing that reaction, particularly given defendants’ emphasis on context are therefore important.”

At deadline, defendants had not responded to Judge Oetken regarding Johnson’s plea to make the video public without redactions.

Next story loading loading..