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Post Info TOPIC: Whitman confrontation cost eBay 6 figures

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Whitman confrontation cost eBay 6 figures

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman was involved in a confrontation in 2007 with an employee who was preparing eBay's then-CEO for a media interview, a confrontation that cost the San Jose online auction site a six-figure settlement, according to published reports.

The employee, Young Mi Kim, returned to work at eBay four months after the incident and continues to work for the company as a senior manager for corporate and executive communications, according to the New York Times, which first reported the story Monday.

After both parties attended a supervised mediation process in San Francisco, they reached a settlement believed to be "around $200,000" according to the newspaper. Kim was not injured and the police were not involved.

"Yes, we had an unfortunate incident, but we resolved it in a way that speaks well for her and for eBay," Kim wrote to the Times in an e-mail Monday. "And ultimately, I came back to the company, which is not something I had to do."

On June 1, 2007, Kim was in an eBay conference room helping the CEO prepare for an interview with Reuters about Second Life, an online virtual world, the newspaper said. The story said Whitman grew frustrated because she wasn't adequately prepared for the interview.

Because there are believed to be no other witnesses to the eBay incident, according to the Times, the range of ensuing confrontation ranges from Whitman "physically guiding" Kim out of the room to Whitman using an expletive and shoving her.

Whitman's campaign spokeswoman declined Monday to address the specifics of the incident or any settlement of what they referred to as "a verbal dispute."

"Meg is a serious, results-focused boss," said spokeswoman Sarah Pompei. "A verbal dispute in a high-pressure working environment isn't out of the ordinary. Meg's record of accomplishment in business, including her success at leading eBay from a 30-employee startup to a Fortune 500 company, speaks for itself."

In a statement to the Times that Whitman signed, she wrote: "Young Mi and I had a professional disagreement, which we put behind us. She and I continued to work together at eBay, where I valued her skilled counsel and thorough professionalism."

Whitman, a billionaire who has never sought political office before and has a spotty voting record, is basing much of her campaign on her success as a business leader. In its listing last year of the top CEOs of the past decade, the Harvard Business Review ranked Whitman at No. 8 for her 1998-2008 tenure at eBay.

Whitman again used the fruits of her tenure to help her gubernatorial effort Monday, records show, giving her campaign $20 million more and increasing her total contributions to $91 million since she entered the race last year.


Exposing the sleazery of ebaY and PayPal


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Lawyers dissect story of Whitman spat

San Francisco Chronic
June 23, 2010 09:04Thursday, June 24, 2010

(06-23) 21:04 PDT SAN FRANCISCO --
GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman has dismissed as "verbal" a
2007 altercation with an eBay employee that resulted in a $200,000
settlement, but attorneys who specialize in workplace issues said
Wednesday that the sizable award tends to support news reports that the
clash was more serious - and physical.

Whitman, the former eBay CEO, has faced a growing uproar since the

June 14 New York Times story by technology writer Brad Stone, who
reported that in 2007 she "became angry and forcefully pushed" an
employee, Young Mi Kim, who was preparing the CEO for an interview.

The Times story said the company, in a confidential settlement,

eventually paid "around $200,000" to Kim, who now is a communications
executive for eBay.

"I don't think someone gets $200,000 when they're verbally pushed,"

said veteran attorney Barbara Lawless, a former president of the San
Francisco Trial Lawyers Association who has specialized in workplace
law for more than 30 years. "When I read about it, I just about fell
out of my chair."

Stephen Murphy, who has litigated workplace issues for three

decades, said, "The only way I could see it making any sense is that if
(Whitman) had made some comment about the employee's ethnic background,
gender or sexual orientation - something protected by law."

"You can be the world's worst boss, but if you don't cross the line"

by violating civil rights or sexual harassment laws, employees' legal
claims don't stand up, he said.

Los Angeles attorney Lisa Mackie, a longtime litigator in employees'

rights issues, agreed: "That's a big settlement if this were a verbal
altercation. ... Based on practical experience and reality, I'd say
there's more to the story that has not been told."

The story about Whitman, who will face Democrat and former Gov.

Jerry Brown in the November election, could affect a key theme of her
campaign - that she was an exemplary executive with the qualities
needed to handle the stressful job as governor of cash-strapped

Neither Whitman nor her campaign team have denied the Times report
that the dispute was physical. The story was based on accounts of
"multiple former eBay employees with knowledge of the incident" who
were not identified.

In an interview Monday on Sacramento radio station KTKZ, Whitman
appeared to be attempting to downplay the account when she dismissed
the event as "a verbal dispute" and a "misunderstanding" - and said the
matter has become a "fascination of the chattering class."

Tucker Bounds, spokesman for her campaign, said Wednesday that "Meg
was answering a question during a radio interview and her account does
not contradict or mean to contradict previous reports. It was a verbal
dispute and we aren't denying that Meg guided Young Mi Kim from the

The Times reported that Whitman used an expletive and shoved Kim
when she became angry. Whitman campaign insiders said the women worked
together after the incident.

"We had an unfortunate incident, but we resolved it in a way that
speaks well for her and for eBay," Kim said of Whitman in an e-mail to
the Times. "Ultimately, I came back to the company, which is not
something I had to do."

Still, some attorneys who specialize in workplace law say the settlement deserves closer examination.Murphy said it is a rare occurrence "for a CEO or a president of a company to engage in physical altercations with employees."Lawless said such events rarely become public."What happens a lot of time with executives or sales people that are

performing well is that the company doesn't want to do anything," she
said, "because it would be more expensive to remove the person from
their position."

E-mail Carla Marinucci at

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You don't want to miss those. rotflol


Exposing the sleazery of ebaY and PayPal


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