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Agency employee claims [email protected] overbilled IBM by millions

A [email protected] employee filed a lawsuit this month in New York federal court claiming the digital agency knowingly overcharged client IBM by millions of dollars.

The plaintiff, Audrey Gladitsch, said in the complaint that she discovered overcharges in 2009, shortly after she began working on the IBM account. She claims she brought the overcharges to the attention of her superiors and was subsequently “[stripped] of her important job duties” and subjected to “baseless and hostile reviews and demotions,” according to court documents that were provided by Ogilvy. BNet first reported the lawsuit.

Gladitsch, an associate digital media manager at the agency, also claims her agency [email protected] mistreated her after she brought attention to her concerns about alleged overbilling.

Gladitsch said in the complaint that she discovered the overcharges when she received an e-mail proposal from an out-of-state vendor that provided media services to IBM. The proposal, according to the complaint, demonstrated that [email protected] substantially overcharged IBM for services the company purchased.

An Ogilvy spokesperson said the agency learned of pricing discrepancies in September 2009, which were believed to be a result of a misunderstanding of contract rates for specialty units of digital media sites. The agency reviewed contracts and historical practices and discussed the issue with IBM, said the spokesperson, who claimed that IBM was satisfied with the results of these discussions. A media vendor gave IBM credit for any financial discrepancies, the spokesperson said. IBM declined to comment on the case.

Gladitsch also claimed in the lawsuit that she was told by a supervisor, “You need to be careful how you handle this because heads could roll.” About one month after that conversation, Gladitsch was removed from the IBM account and promised a promotion, according to the complaint. After she did not receive a promotion, she claims she met with human resources to discuss her 2009 performance review, which “repeatedly criticized [her] for baseless performance deficiencies” according to the court documents.

The complaint states that the plaintiff had never been written up or put on performance improvement plans, and that she had been issued a performance-based bonus in 2008. She has worked at [email protected] since 1996. 

An attorney for WPP declined to comment on the case. Gladtisch’s attorney could not be immediately reached for comment.

WPP, [email protected] and Ogilvy & Mather are listed as defendants in the suit. Mindshare USA, a wholly-owned WPP subsidiary and joint employer, is also named, as are a group planning director and media director at [email protected]

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