A former employee of Publicis Groupe's MSL Group has filed a class-action gender discrimination complaint against the Paris-based holding company and MSL, Publicis' umbrella unit for public relations and events shops. The plaintiff, Monique da Silva Moore, is seeking $100 million in damages.
Publicis and MSL have all-male management, even though far more women than men occupy PR roles, alleges the complaint, filed today in New York federal court on behalf of Ms. da Silva Moore and female employees of MSL. Ms. da Silva Moore served most recently as MSL's global health-care director in Boston, putting in 13 years with the company.
"Publicis's glass ceiling might as well be a cement wall," the complaint says. "Gender discrimination permeates Publicis's entire PR practice."
The complaint further alleges that Ms. da Silva Moore was wrongfully terminated in 2010 after she returned to work from maternity leave. Despite strong performance reviews and record growth for the Boston office, she was also passed over for promotions in favor of male counterparts, it says.
For its part, the agency denies any legitimacy to the complaint.
"We generally do not comment on pending litigation, but we can say that the fact that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission dismissed Ms. da Silva Moore's charge reflects the lack of merit to her claims," an MSL spokeswoman said in a statement.
The EEOC is a federal government organization that enforces employment discrimination laws; filing a complaint with the organization is one step toward a class-action suit.