Interpublic CEO Michael Roth No Longer Target of Discrimination Lawsuit

Proceedings Ongoing, But Claims Against Holding Company Leader Have Been Dropped

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Joy C. Noel, the Interpublic Group of Cos. employee of Trinidadian descent who filed a race-discrimination suit against the holding company seeking $50 million in damages, has voluntarily dropped all claims against Interpublic CEO Michael Roth.

It's so far one victory for Interpublic in what could be protracted legal battle. After years of working for Interpublic, Ms. Noel brought the lawsuit against the company and a handful of senior executives this past April. When Interpublic responded a month later, among its various requests were that all claims against Mr. Roth be dismissed. The company at the time stated that Ms. Noel's naming of Mr. Roth in the suit is inappropriate and not actionable because he isn't alleged to have participated in any discriminatory conduct.

Interpublic argued that she's claiming discrimination based on an alleged refusal to give her promotions because of her race, but Mr. Roth doesn't get involved in such lower-level hiring decisions. The response stated: "Plaintiff does not assert a single fact upon which she could base a claim that defendant Roth had any personal involvement in any alleged race- or color-based discriminatory conduct against her."

Ms. Noel's lawyer, Eric Sanders, did not respond to a request for comment on the withdrawal of the claims against Mr. Roth.

Said Interpublic in a statement to Ad Age : "Mr. Roth is among the strongest CEO advocates in any industry in support of the cause of diversity and inclusion. As such, he should never have been named in this case, as there is no legal basis for the claim against him. While we are pleased that the plaintiff has voluntarily withdrawn her claims against Mr. Roth, we continue to believe that the complaint overall is without merit and we will defend our position vigorously."

The next step in the proceedings will be whether any parts of Interpublic's motion to dismiss will be granted. But that could take months, so stay tuned.

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