Misguided Insult To Misguided Injury: HP Sues To Stop Mark Hurd From Taking New Job

from the what-a-waste dept

The most credible explanation I’ve seen so far as to why HP fired Mark Hurd last month, even after it determined that he had not actually engaged in sexual harassment, was that the Mark Hurd help lead the investigation into the board over the infamous pretexting scandal, and that the whole story about the supposed harassment and fudged expense reports were just an excuse to get rid of a CEO the board didn’t like — even as he was performing tremendously well.

If that explanation is actually true, it also helps explain the news that HP is now going to sue Hurd for accepting his new job as President at Oracle. As HP’s lawyers absolutely must know, California has a law that the courts have interpreted quite broadly, that says noncompete agreements are not enforceable, because you cannot deny a person the right to earn a living. HP is (weakly) trying to get around this by claiming the job shift would violate “confidentiality agreements” and trade secrets, but there’s almost no chance a court buys that. The lawsuit seems like a non-starter. In fact, the only reason for filing the lawsuit really seems to be an absolute pest. It’s an incredibly childish move by a company that should know better.

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Companies: hp, oracle

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Comments on “Misguided Insult To Misguided Injury: HP Sues To Stop Mark Hurd From Taking New Job”

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23 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

The general rule in California is that such agreements are not enforceable. However, there are recognized exceptions…and in this instance such exceptions may apply given the individual’s broad insight into HP’s current and future business plans.

If a contract is in place between HP and its former CEO concerning a severance package, this too could constitute an independent basis for challenging his going to work at Oracle.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

(not that I have anything against companies that do a little bit of everything, they can benefit from economies of scope which can be good for the consumers. In fact, economies of scope is another reason why I tend to disfavor patents, a company that would benefit from economies of scope for releasing a new product line would have incentive to release the new product without patents knowing that competitors that don’t benefit from such economies of scope won’t just copy them so easily).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Oracle thinks so…they named HP in their last (May 2010) annual report.

“Our enterprise software and hardware offerings compete directly with some offerings from the most competitive companies in the world, including Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft), IBM Corporation (IBM), Hewlett Packard Company (HP), SAP AG, and Intel, as well as many others.”

This appears to be in a section where they talk about their “Services Business”. Remember that Sun is now a part of Oracle.

The 2009 HP annual report, however, doesn’t mention Oracle or Sun.

econoline (profile) says:

laid off hp employee

as someone who was laid off at the same time that hurd was using company funds to pay former porn stars to “escort” him around I think the main mistake here was paying him off, rather than trying to have him prosecuted for stealing company funds and firing him outright. However I am surprised to learn that 40 million dollars worth of severance can not make a non compete clause enforceable, seems like a contract with compensation to me.

Regardless he should be prosecuted for insider trading as he dumped millions in stock just days before the news of his tryst/resignation became public.

out_of_the_blue says:

One of us has misread, and I think it's you, Mike:

‘According to ?The Big Lie: Spying, Scandal and Ethical Collapse at Hewlett-Packard,? an authoritative account by the former BusinessWeek writer Anthony Bianco, Mr. Hurd was very involved in H.P.?s efforts to hunt down the leakers. After the scandal broke, he hijacked H.P.?s internal investigation, hiring an outside law firm and ordering it to report directly to him, instead of the board, which is the normal practice.’

‘?There is plenty of evidence from H.P.?s own documents that he had a much bigger role in starting the investigations and carrying them out than he ever let on,? Mr. Bianco said. ?H.P. security had a SWAT team to root out the leakers. They were clearly trying to please him.?’

>>> Repeating from above: “Mr. Hurd was very involved in H.P.?s efforts to hunt down the leakers” — Hurd was evidently NOT going against the board, so I fail to grasp what you mean by “help lead the investigation into the board”. — And they paid him $40 to $50 million to leave, they hate him *so* bad.

The HP board was merely minimizing liability by denying the sleazy allegations.

Oh, and the employees hate Hurd too. The 2nd page of the first link, and comments by alleged former employees on other forums support that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Some quotes from the NYTimes article:

“Even Mr. Hurd?s temporary replacement, the chief financial officer, Cathie Lesjak…”

“What H.P. needs in its next leader … is … That is a tall order, but not an impossible one. It is certainly plausible that the H.P. board can find such a person. Given its recent track record, though, don?t hold your breath.”

So HP has an temporary CEO while they look for a more permanent one. In the middle of their search to fill this position, they are suing the previous CEO.

Now should the HP board find a suitable candidate, would he want this position?

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