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Fired Apple employee claims Jobs promised him job security, files wrongful termination suit

post #1 of 85
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A former employee who coordinated Apple's famous keynote presentations and claims to have introduced the iPhone maker to Siri, Inc., filed a wrongful termination suit against the company last week after reportedly being assured job security by late co-founder Steve Jobs.

According to the complaint filed with the California Superior Court in Santa Clara County, Wayne Goodrich said he was fired in December not due to performance issues, but for what Apple called ?business reasons,? reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

Goodrich, who began work at Apple in 1998, was the "executive producer" of the company's famous keynote presentations and claims to have collaborated with Jobs in planning the events. The complaint goes on to say that Goodrich played a "key role" in coordinating major product launches, including those for the company's bread and butter iPhone and iPad devices.

In the complaint, the presentation guru said he was the first Apple employee to meet with representatives from Siri, Inc. and introduced the startup to the Cupertino tech giant. Apple later acquired Siri and incorporated its virtual assistant technology into the iPhone 4S.

At issue is a purported one-on-one meeting with Jobs following the late CEO's return from medical leave in 2005, in which Goodrich was allegedly promised he would have always have a job at Apple. In 2010, Jobs reportedly reassured Goodrich that he would be offered another job if his then-current position was compromised or if the co-founder was no longer with the company. It is unclear if records of the meetings were kept.

?This express promise by Steve Jobs was consistent with a practice that Steve Jobs had, acting on behalf of defendant Apple, of promising job security to certain key employees who worked directly with him for many years,? Goodrich said.

Apple Retina Display
Steve Jobs explaining the Retina display at 2010's iPhone 4 keynote event.


The plaintiff's lawyer, Phil Horowitz, claims Apple fired Goodrich to avoid paying out the restricted stock he earned during his tenure at the company. The value of the stock rose from $97.40 per share when it was awarded in 2008 to some $635 per share as of the suit's filing date. Goodrich is seeking undisclosed damages for the lost restricted stock, wages, benefits and emotional distress in connection with the alleged breach of contract and unfair business practices.
post #2 of 85

I really hope their guy is being a lying, whiny, vindictive attention whore and he was fired for just cause. I really, really don't want to believe he would be fired for the reason stated in the article. Some of the stories (true or not) coming out from Apple these days, particularly business practises etc are.. disturbing and cynical. I hope there's not much truth to them, otherwise there's a problem. For a company with this much money, this shit should not be happening. I'd like to think Steve Jobs wasn't solely the glue keeping everything in check. 

 

 

Quote:
Phil Horowitz, claims Apple fired Goodrich to avoid paying out the restricted stock he earned during his tenure at the company.
post #3 of 85

I hope that Apple is not practicing what is actually stated here in this article.  Doesn't sound good.  Of course we may not know all the facts.  Yet it makes Apple looks bad.

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post #4 of 85

"Business reasons" isn't an excuse any company would give. I'm sure he has a nice termination letter using industry standard terminology. Sounds like he wasn't needed any more (no one but Steve could work with the guy) and he wants to be paid. He needs to go away with whatever severance he got.

post #5 of 85

I've always admired the simplicity of his presentations. I bet he had a lot of input into the development of Keynote.

post #6 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunks View Post

I've always admired the simplicity of his presentations. I bet he had a lot of input into the development of Keynote.

 

Steve's simplicity goes back to 1989 at NeXT. Keynote was developed by some key internal devs and ex-Lighthouse Design talent that worked with us at NeXT on many of their very solid products. To survive 14 years at Apple working on Keynote presentations with Steve is impressive as he's a stickler for talent that doesn't screw them up--he would do hours upon hours of presentation to get it right.

 

This guy should easily be a milliionaire by now. If not, I have to question how much input he had seeing as he was at Apple when I was there.

post #7 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

I really hope their guy is being a lying, whiny, vindictive attention whore and he was fired for just cause. I really, really don't want to believe he would be fired for the reason stated in the article. Some of the stories (true or not) coming out from Apple these days, particularly business practises etc are.. disturbing and cynical. I hope there's not much truth to them, otherwise there's a problem. For a company with this much money, this shit should not be happening. I'd like to think Steve Jobs wasn't solely the glue keeping everything in check. 

 

 

I don't even want to make a comment.  But I will. I hope the right thing is done and that the person will eventually be able to move on.  I only know that most wrongful terminations have merit whether or not the court or jury sees it. Unless there is plenty of documentation to back up the employer, I will always be on the side of the employee.  I'm sure he is asking for he feels is REASONABLE under the circumstances because he has to go through the court process, which for individuals is even more stressful, plus taxes that have to be paid and attorney's fees.  Whatever they ask, they get less than half take home and they usually have a difficult time getting work in the mean time or as a result.

 

I don't know why the people that file wrongful termination lawsuits are automatically treated poorly.   Usually, they have merit, that's all i am going to say.

 

But, we'll see if more gets publicized. Unless there is sufficient evidence from Apple legal that it was a proper and just termination, I will aways be on the side of the victim.

post #8 of 85

If it was a verbal contract with no witnesses, between two people; one of which is dead, the living guy is fucked. 

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post #9 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

If it was a verbal contract with no witnesses, between two people; one of which is dead, the living guy is fucked. 

Well, verbal contracts are legal in the State of California unless it pertains to Federal Laws and has to be in writing.   At least that's my understanding.

 

 Maybe there are witnesses on some level. 

post #10 of 85
I'm not quite buying it. The article is a bit scarce on info. If you've read Steve Jobs' biography, he wasn't that gracious to begin with. He kind of screwed an early Apple contributor by denying him stock options since he was classified as part-time, only to feel betrayed by Jobs when Apple took off.

Just sayin. Doesn't sound like Jobs' style to essentially take care of someone like that. Then again, he did give Ives free reign and wrote it in that way before he died.
post #11 of 85

If SJ thought this guy was useful, why not keep him around? He might be a giant pain in the ass. Cook may not think he's required. Either way, it's obvious that Cook's presentations are a little lacklustre in comparison to Steve's. And it's not exactly charisma or charm, when he's relaxed TC's great. There have been epic features and products that Cook's introduced now, and yet they've all seemed... underwhelming?

 

Maybe TC's "not a product person, per se", but that's not quite it. Steve took us through the history, the context of the Apple "innovations" demonstrated in new products, could articulate why they were better than the competition (often humourously) and would explain what problem the feature/products solved. TC could do this better, it's not an insurmountable challenge.

 

There's no evidence that this Keynote guy contributed these vital parts. Maybe Steve couldn't be arsed with Keynote animations. As far as making a tacky boom noise to sync with not-entirely-earth-shattering prices, we're probably better off without this dude.

 

We all know there's been something missing in Apple of late. Hopefully it's not just Steve. They'd be hard-pressed to rectify that.

post #12 of 85

All these reports make Apple look more and more like it's turning into "just another company". 

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post #13 of 85
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Originally Posted by bottleworks View Post

All these reports make Apple look more and more like it's turning into "just another company". 

Yes it is what happens often when a companies leadership changes.

There could even be personal conflicts entering into this situation.

I suggest no more speculation, the court case "may" bring out the facts, or Apple offers a payout.

post #14 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by bottleworks View Post

All these reports make Apple look more and more like it's turning into "just another company". 

this isn't a report... its completely one sided too with information only coming from this guys lawyer, which will say anything to make Apple look like the evil company victimizing his client.

post #15 of 85
Fired from a company that you've invested a huge portion of your life in?

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post #16 of 85
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Originally Posted by drblank View Post

.......I only know that most wrongful terminations have merit whether or not the court or jury sees it. Unless there is plenty of documentation to back up the employer, I will always be on the side of the employee. ........

I don't know why the people that file wrongful termination lawsuits are automatically treated poorly.   Usually, they have merit, that's all i am going to say.

 

But, we'll see if more gets publicized. Unless there is sufficient evidence from Apple legal that it was a proper and just termination, I will aways be on the side of the victim.

Look, some employers can be real bastards, there is no way getting around it.  And some employees can be not a good fit, if not harmful to a company.  We are talking about people, here, with attitudes that fit across the entire bell curve.  I would be surprised if the distribution of bad to good employers was any different to that of employees.  So given there are many more employees than employers, the odds are that as an absolute number, there are many more bad employees than employers.  Believe it or not, employers are people too.

Not sure of the implications in this case, but quite often it is just easier for the employer to just agree to a payout rather than fight it in the courts.  In my country, with specific unfair dismissal laws that greatly restrict the reasons and even the process for fair dismissal, with low costs to the ex employee, the laws are sometimes argued as a problem that actually discourages smallish business from employing people.  

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post #17 of 85

Steve Jobs was known for being a difficult prick at times. Maybe this guy was one, too.

post #18 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phone-UI-Guy View Post

"Business reasons" isn't an excuse any company would give. I'm sure he has a nice termination letter using industry standard terminology. Sounds like he wasn't needed any more (no one but Steve could work with the guy) and he wants to be paid. He needs to go away with whatever severance he got.


No, actually, put yourself in his shoes. Think of your wife and your children. OK?

 

He needs to get as much money out of Apple as he can. You'd do the same, don't lie.

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post #19 of 85
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Originally Posted by Entropys View Post

Look, some employers can be real bastards, there is no way getting around it.  And some employees can be not a good fit, if not harmful to a company.  We are talking about people, here, with attitudes that fit across the entire bell curve.  I would be surprised if the distribution of bad to good employers was any different to that of employees.  So given there are many more employees than employers, the odds are that as an absolute number, there are many more bad employees than employers.  Believe it or not, employers are people too.

Not sure of the implications in this case, but quite often it is just easier for the employer to just agree to a payout rather than fight it in the courts.  In my country, with specific unfair dismissal laws that greatly restrict the reasons and even the process for fair dismissal, with low costs to the ex employee, the laws are sometimes argued as a problem that actually discourages smallish business from employing people.  


But the employer has a higher weight than the employee. It's the same reason that when claiming rape, the smallish girl gets a stronger claim than the big burly defendent. It's more "likely". Depends on the country though.

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post #20 of 85
post #21 of 85

The whole concept of this guy being promised he would always have a Job at Apple died with Jobs.  If he even said it.  How could someone who could has be kicked out of this same company he founded make such a promise.  Out with the old in with the new.  

 
post #22 of 85

I do not know the law, and especially not California law.  But in my state (VA), unless you have a specific contract (promise to always having a job is not a contract; it does not mention compensation), you are an AT WILL employee, with some protections.  At Will means I can leave the company whenever I want, and the company can terminate me when they want (barring certain cases...religious, racial, sex discrimination; reserve duty; Family and medical leave act).  But, if my boss disappeared, the new boss would have the right to terminate me.  

 

On the other hand, I can leave my company and work for someone else, as long as I do not take the trade secrets.

post #23 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by genovelle View Post

The whole concept of this guy being promised he would always have a Job at Apple died with Jobs.  If he even said it.  How could someone who could has be kicked out of this same company he founded make such a promise.  Out with the old in with the new.  
 

That is my thought, too. "you will always have always have a job at Apple"

Sounds like it is a little to vague.

Could be part of what was said:

"...if you keep this up."
"...as long as I'm around." (though it sounds as if the meaning was post-SJ)

Thing is, when was this guy fired? Did he have a hand in any post-SJ presentations? Was he (rightly or wrongly) always saying "Steve would do it this way" or "Steve wouldn't do that"

That could get old and show failure to move on.

Let's take Apple out of this for a minute.

You are hired for a job. The number one focus is customer satisfaction. Your customers love you. You go to bat for them when something at the company is counter to the customer. Or risks alienating customers. You are rewarded for this and your boss says "you will always have a place here"

Said small company gets bought by a large company. You see a presentation that says something to the effect that the customer needs are not priority. You continue to go to bat for your customers when changes that would impact them negatively are put in place. You refuse to change your position/attitude, the company has changed, but you've refused to.

Guess what happens? You're out the door.

Could be the case here.
Edited by starbird73 - 8/21/12 at 7:18am
post #24 of 85

california is an 'at will' state. unless you have it in writing, you can be fired for having green hair—if your employer chooses. unless you have it in writing and can prove it, you're pretty much on your own.

post #25 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by genovelle View Post
How could someone who could has be[en] kicked out of this same company he founded make such a promise.  
 

Or perhaps that experience might make Mr.Jobs sensitive to or amenable to just such a promise?

post #26 of 85

first off, almost all stock options deals are backed by stock acquired at the time of the deal.  I can't see Apple terminating someone to save money on Stock Options, unless they were offering options on stock they didn't have in their portfolio (stupid for Apple to do that... Apple doesn't do stupid). Yes, those options are worth a lot of money, but Apple has a lot of money, and make more every day.  Apple has a lot of employees, and they wouldn't jerk one around like this as it would send ripples through out the organization... Apple needs to keep their people happy.

 

2nd.  The only way to lose those options would be if they had a 5 year vesting, and he was  terminated for cause...  Not at-will (business reasons” not connected to his performance,').  At will terminations from an employer side (forced severence) requires all options to vest immediately.   Otherwise companies would offer 'A Billion shares' to each employee and cull the herd just before vesting date.  So, either someone's lying about the termination status, or the options may not exist on the books ("Steve promised me 3000 shares AND a job for life....")

post #27 of 85

So whats the REAL reason he was fired? This article seems kind of one sided to me. 

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post #28 of 85
Apple fired someone and they're not happy about it.

*Looks at other news items in Reeder*

Heyyyyy new pics of iPhone parts. Well would you look at that... *puts the kettle on*
post #29 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

 

Steve's simplicity goes back to 1989 at NeXT. Keynote was developed by some key internal devs and ex-Lighthouse Design talent that worked with us at NeXT on many of their very solid products. To survive 14 years at Apple working on Keynote presentations with Steve is impressive as he's a stickler for talent that doesn't screw them up--he would do hours upon hours of presentation to get it right.

 

This guy should easily be a milliionaire by now. If not, I have to question how much input he had seeing as he was at Apple when I was there.

 

speaking of Lighthouse, http://jonathanischwartz.wordpress.com/2010/03/09/good-artists-copy-great-artists-steal/

post #30 of 85

Firing a person in "bad faith" regardless of the existence of a written contract or for malicious purposes is actually prohibited in California. Of course what exactly is "bad faith" is up to the courts and malicious purposes are always certainly hard to prove. If the employee has some legitimate documentation of Job's promise and that was enforceable after Jobs was no longer with the company he might have a case. But what we have here, is more likely a he said she said situation. Methinks the employee is looking for a quick and tidy out of court settlement under the theory that Apple would want to avoid bad press. Unfortunately he is up against probably the greatest and well funded legal team in the world. Lots o luck

post #31 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

I really hope their guy is being a lying, whiny, vindictive attention whore and he was fired for just cause. I really, really don't want to believe he would be fired for the reason stated in the article. Some of the stories (true or not) coming out from Apple these days, particularly business practises etc are.. disturbing and cynical. I hope there's not much truth to them, otherwise there's a problem. For a company with this much money, this shit should not be happening. I'd like to think Steve Jobs wasn't solely the glue keeping everything in check. 

 

 

Wow, you have a serious pair of rose colored glasses.  Are we forgetting the the mercurial Mr. Jobs was known to publicly abuse and fire employees on a dime, take credit for other people's work (e.g. Jony Ives), and many of the questionable business practices of Apple were started under the reign of Mr Jobs?  Whether or not the man was wrongly terminated will be decided in the court but I can quite imagine this scenario happening under Jobs, perhaps more so.  However, when I read that Goodrich is pleading an alleged verbal promise of always having a job from a now deceased CEO, that raised a big red flag.   

post #32 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by lightknight View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phone-UI-Guy View Post

"Business reasons" isn't an excuse any company would give. I'm sure he has a nice termination letter using industry standard terminology. Sounds like he wasn't needed any more (no one but Steve could work with the guy) and he wants to be paid. He needs to go away with whatever severance he got.


No, actually, put yourself in his shoes. Think of your wife and your children. OK?

 

He needs to get as much money out of Apple as he can. You'd do the same, don't lie.

 

As an Apple employee for so long he should have already done that and taken care of his family. If it was a totally screwed up unlawful termination I could see bringing a case against Apple. At no point would I even consider Steve telling me he would take care of me would be a part of said lawsuit. If it was an improper termination it can stand on its own merit. Anyone not out to grub as much money from Apple as possible would have taken that as Steve would do what he could and that is it. His statement was written by a lawyer. This is bottom feeding lawyer and vindictive terminated employee trash and nothing more. If it wasn't that, it shouldn't have turned into that. I've made a ton of money off Apple and don't feel the need to come up with a bullshit lawsuit to get more.

 

The whole comment about the RSU's a bit disingenuous. It makes it sound like they stole from this guy. When RSUs vest, you get them and some are sold to pay the taxes. What he would loose here is unvested RSUs. RSUs are an incentive to retain employees. If he is terminated, then he has no right to future unvested RSUs. It also means he got all of the RSUs he was actually due up until the point he was terminated. Bonuses are used for past performance and it sounds like he was taken care of there and doesn't have much of a leg to stand on. Of course we are talking about California and anything goes and that nuthouse. 

post #33 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Salzberg View Post

I do not know the law, and especially not California law.  But in my state (VA), unless you have a specific contract (promise to always having a job is not a contract; it does not mention compensation), you are an AT WILL employee, with some protections.  At Will means I can leave the company whenever I want, and the company can terminate me when they want (barring certain cases...religious, racial, sex discrimination; reserve duty; Family and medical leave act).  But, if my boss disappeared, the new boss would have the right to terminate me.  

 

On the other hand, I can leave my company and work for someone else, as long as I do not take the trade secrets.

California is a very different place. Having worked at Apple and working in CA and TX the rules they play by are very different.

 

I have a friend that got fired from Apple, wrongfully, and he got an attorney and got his job at Apple back (at a different group). It was a poor manager above him.

 

These folks are at Apple like anywhere else but in some place you have the right to a remedy like my friend and others in CA and other places you have AT WILL (like VA and TX to name a couple). I would not say that this was any kind of a problem throughout Apple. I think this guy was not very sharp if he didn't even think to cover himself by sending a thanks email or some such to SJ to document this.

 

I really can't believe that so many here are immediately willing to think Apple has gone evil because some former employee with a law suit got it in the press. Where is the real proof here? He can say it was the stock options that is missing out on but being that he will lose a sizable chunk of change if he fails I can understand why he and some vulture attorney would fight for this.

 

BTW: My friend was very successful at Apple and had options that he exercised and retired on while in his early 40's. His mgr at Apple did not fair quite so good, demoted and never recovered.

post #34 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phone-UI-Guy View Post

 

As an Apple employee for so long he should have already done that and taken care of his family. If it was a totally screwed up unlawful termination I could see bringing a case against Apple. At no point would I even consider Steve telling me he would take care of me would be a part of said lawsuit. If it was an improper termination it can stand on its own merit. Anyone not out to grub as much money from Apple as possible would have taken that as Steve would do what he could and that is it. His statement was written by a lawyer. This is bottom feeding lawyer and vindictive terminated employee trash and nothing more. If it wasn't that, it shouldn't have turned into that. I've made a ton of money off Apple and don't feel the need to come up with a bullshit lawsuit to get more.

 

The whole comment about the RSU's a bit disingenuous. It makes it sound like they stole from this guy. When RSUs vest, you get them and some are sold to pay the taxes. What he would loose here is unvested RSUs. RSUs are an incentive to retain employees. If he is terminated, then he has no right to future unvested RSUs. It also means he got all of the RSUs he was actually due up until the point he was terminated. Bonuses are used for past performance and it sounds like he was taken care of there and doesn't have much of a leg to stand on. Of course we are talking about California and anything goes and that nuthouse. 

 

Well said! AGREED.

post #35 of 85

If he's like most other tech employees, then he signed an "at will" employment agreement, which says the company can fire him at any time and he can quit at any time for no reason (other than the stuff covered under "workplace discrimination").

post #36 of 85

The cardinal rule of employment: Get it in writing! Otherwise, I'm sure he (as well as most professionals) are hired with a boiler plate contract that states employment is "at will". If he signed this, and doesn't have assurances in another contract, there's not much wiggle room. Only chance is discrimination based on race, age, gender, etc. The restricted stock seems like his real motivation. Settle this monetarily and I'm sure he can get a job somewhere else. Samsung I hear is hiring!  ;)

 
post #37 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by bottleworks View Post

All these reports make Apple look more and more like it's turning into "just another company". 

How much do you know about Apple to begin with?

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post #38 of 85

The disturbing part is not about whether the firing/layoff is lawful or not. Too many people here choose to focus on that to avoid the real issue - is this the right thing to do or not. 

 

I'm not here to talk about social responsibility of corporations - some just believe there's none. But here's a guy, who's been with the company for a long time, with Jobs. Obviously Jobs worked with him well (otherwise I don't see someone like Jobs even have a 1:1 meeting with him, regardless of what they said in the meeting). Giving this guy the stock options he earned before he's gone, it's really nothing for the company but that's everything to this guy. That's the right thing to do. In fact, the policy to take away all the non-vested portions of stock/option when layoff was for normal business reasons never make any sense to me. 

post #39 of 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

Just sayin. Doesn't sound like Jobs' style to essentially take care of someone like that. Then again, he did give Ives free reign and wrote it in that way before he died.

The key with Ive is that it was known and written. Apparently with this guy it was neither. The only proof is that he says so. And if Apple has records of why they fired him them the wrongful part could be turned over.

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post #40 of 85

They fired him because his services were no longer needed. Yeah, it sucks, but I'm not sure it was lawsuit-worthy. Tim Cook is a different person, he doesn't want someone producing Jobs-style presentations for him. He wants someone who can produce Cook-style presentations.

 

They should pay him out for the stock though. That might be lawsuit-worthy.

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