Hewlett-Packard’s Mark Hurd surprised the board by settling a sexual-harassment claim before the scheduled mediation session, the people said. Instead, Hurd settled the complaint and the meeting never happened, they said. The board’s trust in Hurd also was undermined after a probe found he tried to conceal a relationship with his accuser, a former actress named Jodie Fisher, said the people, who asked not to be named because the information is private.
The handling of Hurd’s departure has drawn a shareholder lawsuit and a rebuke from Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who compared the move to firing of Apple’s Steve Jobs in the 1980s. The suit, filed August 10 by a Massachusetts pension fund, says that mishandling the matter contributed to plunge in HP’s stock last week, erasing $9 billion in value.
A person familiar with Hurd’s thinking said HP knew he was trying to settle with Fisher, and had encouraged him to do so. Also, the mediation session wouldn’t have presented new evidence or allegations, the person said. HP’s lawyers thanked Hurd for settling the complaint, according to the person.