W2O Faces Gender Discrimination Lawsuit From Former Media Head
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W2O Faces Gender Discrimination Lawsuit From Former Media Head

Lynn Fox files lawsuit against agency, at a time when the marketing and communications industry is being rocked by gender issues.

Aarti Shah

W2O Faces Gender Discrimination Lawsuit From Former Media Head

SAN FRANCISCO — Tech PR veteran Lynn Fox has filed a lawsuit against her former employer W2O Group alleging gender discrimination. 

Fox — who has held senior positions at Apple, Google and Twitter — joined the holding group’s WCG unit in August 2015 to lead media and engagement for its tech practice. She was laid off on March 24.

The lawsuit — filed in San Francisco County on July 28 — makes several allegations: that Fox was discriminated against on the basis on her sex; that W2O failed to take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination; and that she was wrongly terminated on basis of sex and in retaliation for making complaints about discrimination.

In particular, Fox alleges discriminatory commentary related to being a mother "including comments that defendant was concerned with hiring her because she is a mother" and "harassing behavior by a male superior."

"We have not been served with the complaint, however, we have always treated Ms. Fox fairly and see no merit to any claim she might bring. In as much as this is a personnel matter, we will have no further comment," W2O CEO/chairman Jim Weiss said in a statement.

When asked to comment on the complaint, Fox provided the following statement: "I'm not the first or only person to be negatively affected by unconscious bias from an employer. The recent uptick in gender discrimination cases in advertising and PR tells the story much better than I can. I'd like to thank all the plaintiffs before me for taking the first steps on this long path toward real equality for women."

The marketing and communications industry has been rocked by gender discrimination issues in recent times. Publicis Groupe ad executive Kevin Roberts resigned this week after comments he made to
Business Insider, including the claim that he doesn’t spend "any time" on gender issues at his agencies because inequality is "way worse" in other sectors. Meanwhile, in March the CEO at WPP-owned JWT resigned after a lawsuit accused him of sexist and racist behavior.

Last fall, meanwhile, Publicis Groupe agreed to pay a $2.9m settlement in a class-action gender discrimination lawsuit against MSLGroup that had been ongoing since 2011 and initially sought $100m in damages. 

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