CLASS ACTION: Publicis PR Pays Women $100K Less Than Men


Female employees of Publicis Groupe’s MSLGroup PR agency have secured a potentially crucial victory in their litigation over alleged unequal pay at the shop: A federal judge in New York granted conditional certification* to their claim for a class action suit against the company.

The suit was brought by Monique da Silva Moore and Maryellen O’Donohue, both former svp/directors of MSL’s healthcare group. They claim female vp and svps at Publicis are paid 8.5% to 11.2% less than male colleagues generally, and that in their specific cases they were paid $100,000 less than men.

The suit is potentially huge because the PR business is dominated by female employees — any factual finding that they are systematically paid less than men elsewhere in Publicis or at other PR agencies could trigger a litigation domino effect. A similar wave of litigation already engulfed the pharmaceutical business.

In a statement, MSL noted that full class action cert was not granted.

The docket in the case states:

CONCLUSION: For the reasons set forth above, Plaintiffs’ motion to amend the first amended complaint (docket no. 154) is granted, but Plaintiffs are cautioned against amending the complaint again. Plaintiffs should file their second amended complaint consistent with this order no later than July 9,2012. The motion for conditional certification and authorization of notice (docket nos. 111, 133) is granted.

According to O’Dwyer’s PR:

Da Silva Moore left MSL in 2010 to head North American healthcare for Ogilvy PR, part of WPP. She exited that firm in May to direct public affairs for Biogen.

O’Donohue is now at Cohn & Wolfe.

*Correction: This story initially said class action status was granted. In fact, the order grants only conditional certification; a substantive ruling on class action status has not yet been reached. Apologies!

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