Retiree, ad agency settle lawsuit, counter prosecution


LITTLE ROCK – A confidential settlement revealed last week ends a two-and-a-half-year dispute between retired advertising manager Gary Heathcott and Little Rock-based marketing firm Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods over the decision of the advertising agency to kick him out of the premises and terminate his consultancy contract.

Heathcott filed a lawsuit in December 2018, and the parties informed Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox on Wednesday that they had resolved the dispute, revealing no details other than that each party would pay their taxes. own legal fees.

The filing comes about a week after Arkansas Business reported that a settlement had been reached and no one involved in the litigation would answer questions about it.

Heathcott, who now lives in San Antonio, has been an advertising, marketing and public relations professional for over 40 years and was the founder of Heathcott Associates Inc. Cranford Johnson bought the company in 2014 and kept Heathcott as a consultant, paying him up to $ 234,000 a year, according to his lawsuit.

According to Heathcott’s lawsuit, Cranford Johnson chief Darin Gray kicked him out of the office in September 2017 and banned him from communicating with his colleagues.

The advertising agency formally terminated its contract in November 2017, alleging that Heathcott had violated company procedures and its employee manual.

Heathcott noted in the lawsuit that no one had ever complained about him to his human resources department, saying the company violated its own procedures for filing and investigating harassment complaints.

Heathcott further claimed in the lawsuit that someone, possibly Gray, the president and CEO of the company, had actively solicited women in the company to press charges against him for harassment, and that employees who refused were subject to reprisals, including dismissal.

The company responded to the lawsuit with a counter lawsuit stating that Heathcott had been fired because of a pattern of abuse, harassment and inappropriate comments in the workplace that were “sexually inappropriate and harassing”.

The response listed 27 incidents which the company said were inappropriate, humiliating, embarrassing, racist and intimidating conduct on Heathcott’s part and provided over three additional pages describing his behavior towards Cranford Johnson employees and customers.

Heathcott denied the accusations, describing them as “outright half-truths, distortions and fabrications.”

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