Settlement played role in HP Hurd's ouster

Aug. 16, 2010 at 6:41 PM
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PALO ALTO, Calif., Aug. 16 (UPI) -- The Hewlett-Packard Co.'s chief executive's sudden settlement of a sexual harassment claim played a role in his ouster, The Wall Street Journal reported.

HP Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd was ousted Aug. 6, two days after he reached a settlement in a harassment allegation that board of director members said they thought hindered their investigation, a person familiar with the board's deliberations told The Wall Street Journal in an article published Monday.

The settlement between Hurd and Jodie Fisher, a former marketing contractor for HP, was reached without the board's input or knowledge, the source said, foiling a mediation session scheduled for the next day, during which Fisher and her lawyer were to meet with the firm's outside counsel and Hurd's personal lawyer.

The result thwarted the board's investigation and increased mistrust among directors who said they already felt Hurd wasn't fully cooperating with the internal probe, the source told the Journal.

The board account contradicts a source who told Hurd's version to the Journal. The source said three weeks before the settlement, HP repeatedly instructed Hurd's lawyers to settle with Fisher before the mediation session.

Board members were told of the settlement Aug. 5 and announced Hurd's departure the next day, sending reverberations through the tech world and causing the Palo Alto, Calif., company's stock to tumble. Among other things, HP cited violations of its business code of conduct, including inaccurate expense reports.

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