Roehm: Wal-Mart Conducting 'Smear Campaign'

Retail Giant Says Facts 'Speak for Themselves'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Complaining of being outmanned by Wal-Mart's army of "private investigators, computer hackers, ex-CIA operatives, former FBI men and an army of public-relations operatives," Julie Roehm is charging her former employer with orchestrating a "smear campaign" against her.
Julie Roehm
Photo: Scott Breithaupt
Julie Roehm
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'Selective' e-mails
Ms. Roehm, who sued the retailer after she was dismissed last year, issued a press release today, just over a week after Wal-Mart filed its own counterclaim. In her statement, Ms. Roehm denied the substance of that lawsuit, which alleges that she had an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate and with an ad agency that led to her sacking.

Wal-Mart's 28-page complaint references e-mails between Ms. Roehm and former VP-Communications Architecture Sean Womack, who was fired along with her, that the company says is evidence of a romantic affair, something that's forbidden by Wal-Mart's ethical code. In her statement, Ms. Roehm, whose lawsuit continues, called the use of e-mail "selective."

Facts 'speak for themselves'
"When you patch together pieces of messages sent at different times, you can create pretty much any story you want," she wrote. "As in other cases, Wal-Mart has attacked the victim."

"The facts in our counterclaim speak for themselves," a Wal-Mart spokesman said.

Ms. Roehm, who was hired from Chrysler Group to help shake up Wal-Mart's staid marketing approach early last year, suggested that her dismissal may be due to sexism at Wal-Mart. "Perhaps some did not like following or taking the advice of a woman."

She continued, "Under cover of a counterclaim, Wal-Mart is insinuating things about my personal life and pretending I violated some code of ethics with advertisers, all to distract from the reality that it didn't want my form of progressive marketing."
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