Former Hewlett Packard CEO Mark Hurd made increasingly aggressive romantic advances over several years toward an independent contractor who later accused him of sexual harassment, according to claims in a letter from her lawyer obtained by Reuters.
During dinners, hotel-room visits and other meetings in cities such as Los Angeles, Atlanta, St. Louis and Madrid between 2007 and 2009, Hurd kissed and embraced Fisher, brushed his hand against her breast and attempted to initiate an affair, according to the letter sent to Hurd on June 24, 2010, by Fisher’s lawyer, Gloria Allred.
Hurd, who is now a president at Oracle Corp. (ORCL), wasn’t found to have committed sexual harassment by Hewlett-Packard, and Fisher herself later said the document contained inaccuracies.
Fisher retained celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, who sent the letter in June 2010 accusing Hurd of hiring her with amorous designs. He tried repeatedly to “engage” her by asking Fisher to his hotel room and kissing her on the lips, according to a copy of the letter provided by a source close to the situation.
“You had designs to make her your lover from the onset using your status and authority as CEO of HP,” Allred said in the letter to Hurd, the contents of which were first reported by Bloomberg News.
“At times you would behave professionally seemingly ‘getting’ that she was not going to have sex with you. At other times, not, and you would relentlessly attempt to cajole her into having sex with you.”
Hurd was ousted from HP on August 6 after Fisher – who was hired as a hostess for corporate events – accused him of sexual harassment, a claim an internal probe later dismissed.
Since Hurd’s departure, Hewlett-Packard has struggled to revive sales and seen its stock tumble 45 percent. He was replaced last year by Leo Apotheker, who himself was ousted on Sept. 22 and replaced byMeg Whitman.
Allred and Michael Thacker, a Hewlett-Packard spokesman, declined to comment.
The eight-page missive penned by Allred, well known for representing women accusing celebrities such as Tiger Woods and politicians of sexual misconduct, blasts Hurd for reducing Fisher to a “nervous wreck” as he continually sought sex with the former actress during meetings from Madrid to Los Angeles.
Allred’s letter portrays Fisher as being nervous in Hurd’s presence because of his advances. In contrast, e-mails from Fisher to Hurd show her enthusiastically discussing her job. The messages, also obtained by Bloomberg News, depict her politely inquiring about Hurd’s family and describing him as “fun” to work with.
Amy Wintersheimer, an employment attorney for Hurd at the firm Allen Matkins, said in an e-mailed statement that she sought to keep the letter confidential because it is “filled with inaccuracies.”
“The truth is, there never was any sexual harassment, which HP’s investigation confirmed, and there never was any sexual relationship, which Ms. Fisher has confirmed,” Wintersheimer said.
After Hurd received Allred’s letter, he turned it over to Hewlett-Packard’s general counsel. Espinoza’s lawyer has said publicizing the letter would help “air out” details of Hurd’s departure from the company.
This week’s court decision followed Oct. 12 arguments in Dover challenging a ruling in March by Delaware Chancery Court Judge Donald Parsons Jr. that most of the letter should be released.