A U.S. District Court in Virginia has denied a motion to dismiss a $25 million law suit against Interpublic Group and its agency McCann by former McCann Health global chief creative officer Jeremy Perrott. But the denial, by Judge Robert E. Payne was ordered without prejudice, meaning IPG and McCann can try again if they want to.
Perrott was terminated by McCann Health in June for alleged violation of the firm’s code of conduct, including alleged remarks to women such as “nice rack” and “nice ass.”
Perrott filed his lawsuit in October denying wrongdoing on his part and charging the defendants with wrongful termination, defamation, tortious interference with contract, common law conspiracy and gross negligence.
In its motion to dismiss IPG/McCann countered that Perrott failed to state an actionable claim, noting that Perrott was “advised of seven complaints by his colleagues in New York prior to his termination.” Defendants also stated that evidence at trial would "also show that McCann management acted appropriately to address the situation, and to protect its employees in the face of Plaintiff’s behavior.”
In his suit Perrott also accused various parties at the agency of acting “upon orders from [IPG CEO Michael] Roth…in furtherance of IPG’s toxic corporate policy of ritualistic sacrifice to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements – a corporate policy that spares no male at IPG, MWG or McCann Health and that promotes fear, distrust and loathing amongst executive talent.” He alleged that IPG had a “predetermined agenda to appease #MeToo and #TimesUp by unceremoniously getting rid of” Perrott.
In its dismissal motion IPG/McCann argued that Perrott was attempting to “cast himself as victim” by issuing a “full-throated indictment of the #MeToo movement in an effort to excuse his inappropriate behavior.” And he did so “despite providing no reason why he—one of Defendants’ key creatives—would be singled out and sacrificed to this movement.”
IPG/McCann also argued that the Virginia court lacked jurisdiction and venue because none of the parties involved in the contest live in the state and none of the alleged action or behavior occurred there. If not dismissed, at the very least the case should be transferred to New York where the activity in dispute occurred, the defendants argued.
Judge Payne said the defendants could separately refile dismissal motions of they choose to do so, but for now the case will proceed and in Virginia.