Ad Firm Worker With NRA Card Accused of Sending Threatening Package to CEO
MIDTOWN — She calls herself a “peacemaker,” but she says her longtime employer wants her gone because she’s a card-carrying NRA member.
Joy C. Noel, a legal secretary at top ad agency Interpublic Group, is suing the firm for $2 million, accusing its brass of falsely blaming her for sending a threatening package to its chairman and CEO.
Noel claims that on Nov. 12, Interpublic investigators accused her of sending a package addressed to chief executive Michael Roth and grilled her for an hour and a half about her National Rifle Association membership and her “supposed gun activities.”
The investigators also interrogated her about her NRA membership cards being part of the package, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Brooklyn Supreme Court. When she denied the accusations, Interpublic suspended her and had investigators escort her out of its Midtown office.
Noel, 55, who lives in Marine Park, said that in her nearly 20 years with Interpublic, she never showed any hostility and was taken aback by the agency’s allegations.
“[Noel] was in shock given that, during her career at [Interpublic], there has been no evidence that she has ever threatened any of her co-workers,” the lawsuit says. “In fact she has been known as a peacemaker and the ‘go to’ person.”
Noel claims Interpublic is retaliating against her for filing a previous lawsuit alleging race discrimination at the firm.
In April 2012 Noel sued the agency in Manhattan Federal Court, claiming she had been passed over for jobs and was treated “like a servant” because she was black. She lost the case in June 2013, but filed an appeal this past fall.
After Interpublic suspended her, the agency’s investigators summoned her to the building in December and continued to grill her about the package and her NRA membership, and asked her if her husband and children were involved, the lawsuit says.
“[Noel] is unsure of why she must be subjected to this harsh treatment given that the NRA and all the organizations she joined are well-established and legal organizations,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit does not specify what was in the package sent to Roth, who reportedly earned nearly $13 million in 2012.
When investigators reached a dead end in their probe, Interpublic offered Noel a severance deal, but she asked to return to her job.
The agency said in January that it wanted its psychiatrist to evaluate her before she came back to work, according to the lawsuit. She has refused the request, saying in the lawsuit that Interpublic has “no right to ask her to undergo a test that will rob her of her dignity.”
Noel said in the suit that she is willing to have a shrink of her choosing evaluate her, but Interpublic rejected the offer.
She is still suspended and fears “she could be stripped of her employment,” the lawsuit says. She is suing for discrimination and the stress from the investigation into the package and her suspension.
A spokesman for Interpublic did not respond to a request for comment.
Noel’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.