A former Oracle vice president late Wednesday was awarded more than $US2.6 million in compensation after a San Francisco Superior Court jury ruled the company and its executive vice president had wrongfully terminated her.
Sandy Baratta, a former Oracle vice president of global alliances, filed the wrongful termination suit against Oracle and the vendor's Executive Vice President Gary Bloom in June 1999, two months after she was fired over the phone at San Francisco Airport preparing to go on a business trip for the company. Baratta's attorney, Alan B. Exelrod, said his client was pleased with the jury's decision that came down late Wednesday.
"They awarded her the equivalent of all of her stock options," Exelrod said.
Oracle is disappointed with the verdict and plans to appeal the jury's ruling, the company said in a statement. The U.S. database, applications and tools vendor said it believes there is a "high likelihood" that the verdict will not be allowed to stand.
Baratta argued she was terminated by Oracle for alerting Bloom that the company's CRM (customer relationship management) group may have had unauthorized access to SAP AG's R/3 software, Exelrod said. R/3 is an ERP (enterprise resource planning) suite of software, the main constituents of which are financial, manufacturing and human resource modules. Oracle and SAP are bitter rivals in both the ERP and CRM markets.
Much of the trial evidence focused on the access Oracle's CRM group had to SAP's R/3 software. Oracle accessed SAP's applications through an Oracle employee who was stationed at SAP's headquarters in Walldorf, Germany, Baratta said. Oracle in its statement called her claims speculative.
Baratta also contended Bloom made inappropriate comments about pregnant executives at the company at a time in 1999 when she was pregnant, Exelrod said. He said his client complained to Oracle's human resources department and that information somehow filtered through to Bloom. Exelrod said they argued that Bloom used that complaint as a reinforcement to fire Baratta, a claim that Oracle has denied.
Oracle said it knows the reason why Baratta was fired.
"Oracle knows that Ms. Baratta was, in fact, terminated for the inappropriate way in which she treated employees on her staff," the statement said.
Baratta worked at Oracle from December 1996 to April 1999.
Oracle's Bloom is widely seen as the man to fill the number two position at the company left vacant by the unexpected departure of Ray Lane, Oracle's long-time president and chief operating officer, early last month. [See "Oracle President and COO Ray Lane Resigns," July 3.]Oracle, based in Redwood Shores, California, can be reached at +1-650-506-7000 or via the Internet at http://www.oracle.com/.