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The Delaware Supreme Court has ruled that the letter sent to Ex-HP CEO Mark Hurd accusing him of sexual harassment should be made public.
The letter served as the impetus behind his subsequent resignation.
Hurd was accused by celebrity attorney Gloria Allred of sexually harassing her client, Jodie Fisher. Fisher was a contractor working for HP. Hurd was accused of treating her to expensive meals. He was also accused of telling her confidential, non-public company information.
Allred was attempting to arrange mediation between Hurd and Fisher.
HP conducted an internal investigation. It found that while Hurd did not violate the company's sexual harassment policy, he had violated its standards of business conduct.
Hurd resigned, receiving a $40 million severance package.
HP shareholder Ernesto Espinoza then sought the letter. He requested all records of Hurd's resignation. He claimed he wanted to investigate possible corporate wrongdoing.
Hurd argued that the letter would invade his privacy under California law. The Delaware Supreme Court ruled that there wasn't enough to establish good clause to seal the letter.
"Information that is only 'mildly embarrassing' will not be protected from disclosure," wrote Justice Berger in the opinion.
In house counsel deal with a wide array of company problems on a daily basis. There are few situations as thorny as when you receive a letter accusing a chairman of inappropriate conduct.
If you were in the same position as HP's general counsel, what would you have done? It's difficult to say. Hurd handed the letter over to HP's general counsel out of his own will, reports the Mercury News.
As for Mark Hurd, allegations of sexual misconduct weren't enough to stop his career. He is currently a president at Oracle.