updated 10:40 am EST, Thu December 29, 2011
Hurd letter over HP firing must be made public
(Update: the letter is posted) Ousted HP chief Mark Hurd late Wednesday lost an appeal against a ruling that will make an accusation letter public. The Delaware court determined that the contents discussing the Jodie Fisher involvement were only "mildly embarrassing" and weren't protected the same way genuine trade secrets might. It wouldn't violate California privacy rights, and many of the details had been leaked to the public and weren't overly detailed, the court argued.
Fisher and her attorney Gloria Allred had addressed the letter to Hurd and HP to his corporate address, not personally, leaving the contents outside of the protections of strictly private details.
A ruling had already been in place that would keep secret the HP report that led to Hurd being fired and replaced with Leo Apotheker for under a year.
Now working at Oracle, Hurd was accused by Fisher of sexual harassment and covering up expenses. Although she would later say there were flaws in the letter she first sent, Fisher has still largely established a pattern where Hurd went out of his way to visit and otherwise try to court her. The two have tried to downplay the possibility of any full-fledged sexual activity, but Hurd drew the attention of HP's board after falsely claiming trips and dinners to see Fisher as business expenses.
HP has seen some of the most rapid turnover in the CEO position of any major company. After dropping Hurd in 2010, it fired Apotheker in September to replace him with former eBay leader Meg Whitman. Hurd's absence has been credited with the abrupt decision to cancel webOS hardware shortly after the TouchPad launched as well as Apotheker's short-lived attempt to split off the PC business at HP's core.
Update: The letter has been posted (top-most document). Fisher herself has warned that some of the details are inaccurate, but the letter recounts multiple incidents where Hurd had urged Fisher to sleep with him. Fisher afterwards said Hurd's actual behavior wasn't "detrimental to HP." In the letter, however, she suggested that Hurd had tied financial rewards or punishment directly to the offer of sex, either giving her a large salary and more contracts or having her dropped. [via AllThingsD]