View Full Version : Advertising exec made AIDS joke to HIV-positive worker: suit

The Bobster
05-03-2016, 05:21 PM

Advertising exec made AIDS joke to HIV-positive worker: suit
By Julia Marsh
May 3, 2016 | 7:57pm

A supervisor at the $20 billion advertising giant Omnicom didn’t discriminate when it came to harassing his employees — ridiculing a gay man for being HIV positive, sending a straight women a gag gift statuette of President Obama with an erect penis :p, and ribbing another underling about his disability, a new lawsuit alleges.

Matthew Christiansen, who filed the $20 million Manhattan civil suit Tuesday, started at Omnicom in 2011 as associate creative director. He says his boss, chief digital officer Joe Cianciotto, immediately started targeting colleagues.

In one instance Cianciotto coughed during a meeting then turned to Christiansen and joked, “It feels like I have AIDS, you know what that’s like Matt?,” the suit claims.

Then, for Christmas the boss gave a female colleague “a President Obama statue with its penis out,” the suit says.

In another incident he allegedly told a staffer with cerebral palsy, “You have this creepster look.”

One of Cianciotto’s office drawings.

Cianciotto also made crude drawings of his coworkers on white boards around the office, including a poster that showed Christiansen on his back in a bikini, the suit says. Another had an Arab coworker flying around on a magic carpet :D, the Manhattan Supreme Court filing says.

After filing a complaint Christiansen was asked to leave his job last March, but stayed on. Cianciotto also no longer works for Omnicom.

A similar suit was tossed by a federal court judge last year because federal law doesn’t protect against bias based on sexual orientation. State law does.

Cianciotto’s attorney, Rick Ostrove, said, “This case was already thrown out of federal court and we think it’s just a matter of time before it gets thrown out of state court as well.”

A spokeswoman for Omnicom added, “Our culture of diversity and inclusion is very important to us. While we haven’t been served with a complaint, we are very disappointed to hear the case, which was filed in May 2015 and dismissed by federal court earlier this year, has come back up. We’re confident that we’ll receive the same outcome at the state level, if/when we receive it.”