Rapp CEO Alexei Orlov has resigned in the wake of a lawsuit by a former agency executive that accused him of discrimination, retaliation and wrong termination.
Orlov is the second CEO this year to depart under the cloud of a discrimination law suit. In March Gustavo Martinez, CEO of WPP’s J. Walter Thompson left within a week of being sued by Chief Communications Officer Erin Johnson for sex harassment and retaliation.
A third CEO, Jim Palmer, who ran Interpublic Group’s Campbell Ewald, was dismissed after he failed to adequately address racist conduct by an employee at the agency’s San Antonio office, which resulted in the departure of clients including USAA.
In both the Rapp and JWT cases, the companies are vigorously defending the suits, despite the departure of the CEOs. Earlier this week Rapp said that the suit, filed in May by former Rapp US President Greg Andersen was full of “outrageous allegations.” JWT and WPP have asked a New York Court to dismiss the suit against them and Martinez.
Andersen detailed allegations of sexism, anti-Semitism and a hostile work environment in his suit, alleging that Orlov threatened employees at one meeting that if they “mess with my brand or my direction I will break off your finger and shove it up your ass.”
Dale Adams, CEO of Omnicom’s Diversified Agency Services unit, which oversees Rapp Worldwide, praised Orlov’s work as CEO in a statement, asserting that the agency has become “a united global brand with a defining strategy and a point of differentiation in the marketplace,” under his leadership. No mention of the law suit, however.
Orlov joined the agency in 2014 after a stint as a marketing executive at Volkswagen.
At Rapp Orlov is being replaced, at least for the interim by Marco Scognamiglio, who is head of the agency’s EMEA and APAC regions.