Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd lost an appeal to a Delaware court today to keep a series of letters dealing with sexual harassment allegations against him confidential.
Hurd, who is currently co-president of technology giant Oracle, was accused of sexual harassment against HP marketing contractor Jodie Fisher during his time with the company. Several HP board members made the argument that they needed to see the documentation about Hurd’s relationship with Fisher to assess any wrong doing at the company during his tenure and gauge whether the relationship should effect Hurd’s severance package.
One crucial document the board wanted to see was the letter written by Fisher’s lawyer to Hurd (which Fisher later recanted), which describes a two-year period in which Hurd allegedly used his power as HP head to make unwanted sexual advances on several occasions. The letter describes the period as an “uncomfortable dance” — and having reviewed the copy obtained by AllThingsD, I’d say that’s a pretty accurate (albeit mild) description. Another description would be that it is the equivalent of a bad soft-core adult movie that’s been edited for late night basic cable.
“It is appalling that you would use HP revenues for the purpose of procuring female companionship and romance under the guise of HP business,” the letter to Hurd states.
In one situation described in the letter, Hurd allegedly invited Ms. Fisher to his hotel room after a conference to discuss a business trip to China. The letter states that Hurd asked her to spend the night with him. Fisher declined and departed his room, but that didn’t stop Hurd from trying again. The following night, the letter states, he asked her to dinner, making reference to how many women liked him — including singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow.
The letter also asserts that Hurd had mistresses in San Francisco and New York and that he showed Ms. Fisher a million dollar account balance on one of his ATM statements — among lots of other juicy details. It’s pretty easy to see why Hurd moved to keep the documents confidential.
While Fisher recanted much of what was written in the letter the day after it was sent to Hurd, it’s still documented. In a followup statement to Hurd, she wrote:
“Upon further reflection and review, I wanted to clarify certain issues related to the correspondence that was sent to you on my behalf on June 24, 2010. First, I do not believe that HP engaged in any inappropriate conduct towards me in any way. Second, there are many inaccuracies in the details of the June 24, 2010 letter. I do not believe that any of your behavior was detrimental to HP or in any way injured the company or its reputation.”
For anyone who’d like to read the entire story, you can check out the full letter here. (Alternately, you could just flip on the Soap Opera channel, which undoubtedly has better production quality and more subplots.)