Republicist Officer’s Victory in Federal Court Establishes Platform for Whistleblowers in High Fashion

Joseph Villanueva, chief strategy officer and founder of high-consulting agency Republicist, successfully defended himself against a lawsuit filed by System Agency, the talent agency Villanueva formerly led and developed into Eastern Europe’s most sophisticated talent-scouting network. Villanueva’s victory comes at a time when high fashion is in dire need of new, ethical leaders.

New York, New York–(Newsfile Corp. – July 13, 2022) – A recent legal victory by an officer of a New York high consulting agency has acknowledged the need for ethical leadership in high fashion and affirmed whistleblowers’ efforts to pursue it.

In September 2021, Joseph Villanueva, chief strategic officer of Republicist, LLC, successfully negotiated the dismissal of allegations of defamation and breach of fiduciary duty in a lawsuit totaling millions of dollars filed by his former employer, System Agency. The dismissal was a milestone that acknowledged the success of efforts by Villanueva that began in May 2019.

While Villanueva served as an executive officer of System Agency, he disclosed to certain stakeholders information pertaining to executive malfeasance and credible complaints of abuse of power and trust, including abuse involving minors, which were covered up and allowed to occur for years at the agency. In retaliation, System Agency and president Jeremie Roux not only terminated Villanueva’s employment but also withheld earnings owed to the System Agency talent who informed Villanueva of the misconduct.

In its complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan in July 2019, System Agency alleged that it suffered harms as a result of Villanueva’s departure:

  • Three staff members terminated their contracts with System Agency, including the director of development.

  • Four of System Agency’s top models terminated their contracts, including the agency’s highest earner.

  • System Agency’s top music artist terminated its contract.

System Agency further alleged that Villanueva’s departure and disclosure caused the loss of joint-venture arrangements with three financial institutions, foreign investment socialites, a local growth-startup brand partnership, and a high-profile production label. Under Roux’s direction, System Agency sued both Villanueva and Republicist, the public-relations and consulting firm he cofounded and launched after his departure.

Presiding over the dispute was Obama-appointed U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman, who on December 22, 2020, denied System Agency’s motion for summary judgment, finding its representations “plainly untrue” and that it had “fail[ed] to submit any admissible evidence” to support its claims. Evidence found inadmissible included an “allegedly fraudulent Credit Suisse document sent by Villanueva to someone else,” an “alleged Instagram post,” and a “document, of unknown provenance, listing people to whom Villanueva allegedly sent defamatory email messages.”

The court’s ruling led to a swift decline in the litigation, resulting in Villanueva’s successful negotiation during depositions that System Agency pay all earnings owed to talent.

In July 2021, System Agency eventually defaulted on its claims a day before trial. The agency also failed to defend a counterclaim by Villanueva for $100,000 in unpaid commissions, citing a lack of resources and inability to bear the expense of a trial. As a result, the court dismissed System Agency’s claims with prejudice and deemed the company to be in default as to Villanueva’s counterclaim.

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Photo of Chief Strategic Officer Joseph Villanueva

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In September 2021, Republicist and its leadership decided not to pursue damages, asset seizures, and the unpaid commissions. “The counterclaim was symbolic,” said Republicist cofounder and chief strategic officer Villanueva. “If we were to accept money for this victory, it would be a great dishonor. We were glad to be granted such a challenge.”

Contact Information:

Everly Marlowe: Director of Communications

Joseph Villanueva: Chief Strategic Officer

Press Release Sources:
a. Official Case Resource on PacerMonitor

b. Official Response from Judge Regarding The Matter and Evidence.

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