Letter to Hurd details allegations that led to his downfall at HP

Delaware Supreme Court unseals letter outlining sexual harassment complaint

Details of allegations of sexual harassment that ultimately caused Mark Hurd, now co-president at Oracle, to quit as CEO of Hewlett-Packard are now plastered across the Internet after a letter written on behalf of the complainant was unsealed by the Delaware Supreme Court Wednesday.

The letter, sent by attorney Gloria Allred for former actress Jodie Fisher, who had been employed by HP on a contract basis to help with customer events, describes various meetings between the two where Hurd "would relentlessly attempt to cajole [Fisher] into having sex."

The letter became the subject of dispute when an HP stockholder, Ernesto Espinoza, filed a suit claiming that shareholders have the right to read the letter, as well as access to other material, as part of efforts to investigate the circumstances of Hurd's resignation.

Though the letter has not yet been made public in electronic records, media outlets including AllThingsD, an affiliate of the Wall Street Journal, obtained it and published it online.

The Delaware Supreme Court weighed in on the issue after a ruling by the state's Court of Chancery, allowing the letter to be made public, was appealed.

"We requested the court keep the letter confidential because, as Ms. Fisher has acknowledged, it is filled with inaccuracies," according to a media statement from Amy Wintersheimer, an employment attorney representing Hurd. "The truth is, there never was any sexual harassment, which HP's investigation confirmed, and there never was any sexual relationship, which Ms. Fisher has confirmed."

In fact, after Hurd and Fisher settled the harassment complaint, Fisher sent Hurd a letter saying that the initial letter sent by Allred had inaccuracies.

Neither Hurd nor Fisher claim they actually had sex, and Hurd was not ousted by HP for the relationship itself. However, after HP was notified of the harassment claim against Hurd, it investigated and found instances of inaccurate expense reports from Hurd meant to hide his relationship with Fisher, according to company officials. The evidence pointed to "a profound lack of judgment" by Hurd, according to Mike Holston, HP's general counsel at the time. The HP board concluded that Hurd could no longer be an effective leader, and Hurd stepped down in August 2010.

In its ruling, the Delaware Supreme Court said that "The Allred letter does not contain any nonpublic financial information, trade secrets, or other proprietary information."

The court also said that the letter does not contain any third-pay confidential information. The court concluded by saying that while "the letter goes into embarrassing detail about Hurd’s behavior, it does not describe any intimate conversations or conduct."

Included in the letter are allegations that Hurd showed Fisher a balance of over a million dollars in an ATM receipt of a bank account in an attempt to impress her, and several instances where he kissed her despite her protests, including a time when he invited her to his hotel room to show her documents sent to him by a Chinese government official. In perhaps the most potentially serious allegation of corporate impropriety, the letter says that Hurd told Fisher about HP's negotiations to buy IT services company EDS before the talks were made public.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Marc Ferranti

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?