Publicis' MSLGroup Gets Partial Victory in Ongoing Discrimination Suit

Decision Comes Weeks Ahead of Publicis' Merger With Rival Group Omnicom

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Former President Jim Tsokanos
Former President Jim Tsokanos

PR agency MSLGroup can claim partial victory in its long and ongoing gender discrimination suit just in time for its parent company's merger with rival holding company giant Omnicom.

Judge Andrew Carter of the Federal Court in New York on Monday denied the plaintiffs' motion for class certification in a lawsuit implicating the agency and its former North America President Jim Tsokanos.

Here's a court statement from Monday, March 31:

"The order denies without prejudice the Motion to Certify Class. Plaintiffs Monique da Silva Moore and other class representatives brought this action against Defendants Publicis Group SA and MSLGroup alleging gender discrimination. After extensive discovery, Plaintiffs have moved this Court to certify the class. For reasons to be discussed more fully in a forthcoming order, Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification (ECF No. 424) is DENIED without prejudice. The Court will hold a status conference in this action on May 5, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. The parties should appear in person at the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse, 40 Foley Square, in Courtroom 1306 on the date and time specified above. SO ORDERED."

Monique Da Silva Moore and other female public relations employees in the U.S. filed the gender discrimination lawsuit in February 2011 with claims that they were denied equal pay, promotion and other employment opportunities by Publicis and its member group, MSLGroup. Ms. da Silva Moore, a former Global Healthcare Director for MSLGroup, had worked for the PR agency for thirteen years.

"We are pleased with Judge Carter's ruling to deny the plaintiffs' class certification motion. The fact is, women, as a group, were treated the same as men in the implementation of MSLGroup policies and practices," the company said in a statement on the most recent development. "MSLGroup is committed to the fair, equal and respectful treatment of all of its employees. We believe this lawsuit has no merit, and we will continue to defend against the remaining claims vigorously."

The case is ongoing, with remaining claims by individuals and claims related to the Equal Pay Act.

"We have received the Court Order. We will await the forthcoming opinion to which it refers before making any comment," said a spokeswoman from Sanford Heisler, the lawfirm representing the plaintiffs.

Renee Wilson, who was promoted to president succeeding Jim Tsokanos in 2012, recently stepped down from the role. She's currently serving as chief client officer.

Omnicom and Publicis are set to merge in the coming weeks pending regulatory approval from China.

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