RAPP Responds to ‘Outrageous’ Suit Filed by Former U.S. President, Calls His Firing ‘Appropriate’

Attorneys label charges 'mischaracterizations'

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Lawyers for Omnicom direct marketing agency RAPP Worldwide responded today to a May suit filed against the organization and its global CEO Alexei Orlov by former U.S. president Greg Andersen.

In the documents filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and acquired by Adweek, the legal team of Latham & Watkins LLP writes, "Defendants deny generally and specifically each and every allegation" in the original complaint and "specifically deny that Plaintiff has been damaged in any amount, sum, or manner whatsoever."

The filing goes on to assert that the agency's decision to fire Andersen in April was "lawful and appropriate." 

In justifying Andersen's termination, the document claims that he "failed to perform basic duties" during his time serving as president of the U.S. organization. "Among other issues, Mr. Andersen repeatedly failed to engage with RAPP clients, was unresponsive to senior RAPP executives and others, and was often absent from the office and key RAPP events," it reads. The filing goes on to claim that his firing had nothing to do with his age, that he had been designated to be terminated before "the alleged workplace complaints described in his Complaint," and that his time with the agency helped demonstrate that RAPP does not need a U.S. president and therefore does not plan to hire a replacement. The document also states that RAPP Worldwide "is not a proper party to this action" since Andersen was only employed by the agency's U.S. operations.

"With respect to the outrageous allegations and gross mischaracterizations in the Complaint," the filing reads, "RAPP flatly denies them and believes they are an attempt by Mr. Andersen to mask the actual and legitimate reasons why he was terminated."

The document does not directly address any of the individual claims listed in the original suit. Those include the assertion that Orlov referred to various unnamed women as "fat cows," that he declined to promote an unnamed female executive because she was "too pretty" to be taken seriously, that he "demonstrated through his comments and actions that he harbored discriminatory animus against women and various racial and ethnic groups," that he sought to acquire Viagra without a prescription from an account executive working on the Pfizer business "because he has a young wife," and that he once said the following to a gathering of approximately 70 clients and RAPP employees in Dallas: "Mess with my brand or my direction and I will break off your finger and shove it up your ass."

At the time the story first broke, an agency representative told Adweek, "RAPP is aware that Greg Andersen has filed a complaint and denies that any unlawful conduct occurred." Following that development, more top U.S. executives have left the RAPP organization, including global chief creative officer Frank Iqbal and head of business leadership Kamini Lane. Multiple sources told Adweek that Lane was the female executive mentioned in Andersen's suit.

Last week, Campaign reported that multiple former RAPP London employees including vp of business development Alison Clark had reached out to claim incidents of "bullying and abusive emails." Several top executives have recently left the London office including global chief creative officer Ian Haworth (who departed in September 2015 to join Wunderman), executive creative director Jason Andrews and managing director of media Ian Maynard.

An agency person responded to that story by writing, "We cannot comment on any individual allegations but can say that they do not reflect our environment in any way."

Alexei Orlov has not spoken publicly since news of Andersen's departure broke in April.

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.