Tuesday, June 16, 2009
"It's a white-collar worker's nightmare: giving a presentation that gets you fired. It happened to the chief financial officer of Motorola this year. And the lawsuit he filed afterward offers an unusual peek into dysfunctional relationships at the top of a major company. Motorola has gone so far as to claim it fired the CFO 'for cause'--a term often reserved for suspected embezzler--while the former executive says he was canned for blowing the whistle. ... Paul Liska, 53, walked into a board subcommittee meeting Jan. 28 and fired a broadside at the Schaumburg, Ill.-based company's ailing cell phone division. ... Not all of Liska's presentation can be seen in the public records accompanying his lawsuit. Some parts have been blotted out by Motorola so as not to reveal business secrets. Liska and the company declined to comment for this story, citing the litigation. ... Five hours later, Greg Brown, who shares the chief executive title with [Sanjay] Sha, told Liska he was being replaced as CFO. 'Paul, you fired a shot heard around the world,' he said, according to Liska. ... Motorola says he knew he was on the way out, and he tried to set himself up as a whistle-blower who was being fired for speaking out. ... On Feb., 20, Liska filed a 'retaliatory discharge' suit. Two weeks later, the company said in a regulatory filing that Liska had been fired for cause, a potentially career-killing term, and the fight became public", my emphasis, Peter Svensson at the Houston Chronicle, 24 May 2009.
Five hours later? Case closed. Motorola pay up. Hey SEC, where are you on this? Did you already visit Motorola's offices with a subpoena for Liska's personnel file and all board of directors minutes for the last six months? If the SEC finds Motorola's Brown is lying, will he be indicted for securities fraud? Will the Labor Department intervene in this case? Will Dudley Do-right save Nell Fenwick? Stay tuned.