Tuesday, September 25, 2012

10559: Omnicom Faces Discrimination Lawsuit.

Business Insider reported on a discrimination lawsuit filed against Omnicom, with charges including taunts about the male plaintiff’s sexuality. Hey, maybe Bob Garfield was right when he wrote the 2008 open letter to Omnicom CEO John Wren and complained the holding company’s agencies were producing homophobic commercials.

Omnicom Discrimination Lawsuit Reads Like A Gossip Column

By Laura Stampler

Sports media veteran Ray Katz filed a $3 million lawsuit against Omnicom alleging wrongful termination and discrimination, and it’s quite the page-turner. It features allegations of fraud, anti-Semitism, taunts regarding sexuality and overall bullying.

“Plaintiff is a 52 year old, unmarried, Jewish male,” the lawsuit — filed against Omnicom Group, OMD, Optimum Sports, and former CFO Mark Amabile — begins. According to the suit, Katz was discriminated against for being all three — even though he once dated professional poker player Beth Shak … on a reality TV show.

“Amabile repeatedly questioned Mr. Katz’s status as a non-married male,” the lawsuit says. “Further commenting that Plaintiff ‘must be homosexual if he is not married at his age.’”

The former NFL marketing director appeared on Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker in 2010 — as a suitor — on a date with Shak.

Here are the highlights of the rest of Katz’s allegations:

• Katz “exceeded the revenue and profitability goals set for his department, and year six was similarly on track to beat all goals,” the suit states. He alleges he was fired because there wasn’t revenue to support his position.

• Revenue generated by Optimum was assigned to other units of Omnicom, and expenses from those units assigned to Optimum, in violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the suit alleges.

• Katz alleges he was fired for generating revenue for accounts like State Farm, Lowe’s, Bank of America, and Visa as opposed to working on Amabile’s pet projects. The lawsuit says Amabile “concentrated his efforts on obtaining sponsors for Diamond Nation, a local New Jersey baseball camp at which defendant AMABILE’s son was a student… Upon information and belief, it was defendant Amabile’s intent to curry favor with the camp and its college coaches in order to assist in obtaining extra baseball instruction, scholarship offers for his son, and admission to universities which would not admit his son without the prospect of baseball contribution.”

• Katz didn’t have a happy birthday. “Mr. Katz was given a book ‘Golf over 50,’ a disparaging greeting card calling attention to Mr. Katz’s advancing age, and a candle with the numbers 6 and 1, signifying 61 years old, and further mocking Mr. Katz’s age was displayed on the birthday cake,” the suit states.

• On top of allegedly being told that he must be gay if he was still single, “Plaintiff, on numerous occasions was told that single people need to make less money than married people and Plaintiff was witness to occurrences of this practice being enforced.”

• Katz says he saw defendants allegedly discriminate against Jewish vendors, for being “untrustworthy.” He doesn’t offer any evidence of that in the lawsuit.

Katz joined Leverage Agency as president of sports properties and media in October 2009. He’s currently managing partner at Source1 Sports.

Omnicom and Katz did not respond for comment.

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