Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) was sued by Wayne Goodrich, who says he was a confidant, sounding board and close adviser to company co-founder Steve Jobs and was fired for no legitimate reason despite Jobs’s promise of job security.
Goodrich said he was fired in December for what Apple said were “business reasons” not connected to his performance, according to a complaint filed Aug. 17 in California state court in San Jose.
Goodrich, who worked for Jobs since 1998, was promised by late chairman of the world’s most valuable company in a one-on- one meeting in May 2005 that he would always have a job at Apple, according to the complaint. The conversation took place after Jobs’s return from medical leave to receive treatment for pancreatic cancer, Goodrich said.
“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 in the complaint.
Goodrich alleged breach of contract and unfair business practices and seeks damages for lost restricted stock units, wages, benefits and emotional distress. He’s seeking compensation for loss of restricted stock that was worth $97.40 a share when awarded in 2008 and about $635 a share as of Aug. 17. Apple discharged him to avoid paying the restricted stock, Phil Horowitz, Goodrich’s lawyer, wrote in the complaint.
Steve Dowling, a spokesman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Goodrich was executive producer of Apple’s public presentations, including all new product releases, and participated in the creative process for developing the presentations and working with Jobs to prepare the events, according to the complaint.
Goodrich said he played a key role working with Jobs to coordinate major product events such as the debut of the iPhone and iPad. The keynote speeches -- and the resulting media coverage -- have been a critical part of Apple’s strategy for introducing new devices. Apple sold more than 3 million iPads after the latest tablet went on sale in March following one event.
Apple’s style of product releases have been emulated throughout the technology industry, with executives such as Facebook Inc. (FB:US) co-founder Mark Zuckerberg using similar events to introduce new features for the world’s largest social network.
Goodrich said one of his major accomplishments at Apple was to introduce the company to Siri virtual personal assistant technology. He was the first Apple employee to meet with managers of the company that developed Siri, which Apple later acquired, according to the complaint.
He received raises and bonuses each year, including from 2007 through 2011, according to the complaint. Goodrich was assured by Jobs in 2010 that he would be given another job at Apple if anything happened to his position and Jobs wasn’t around, according to the complaint.
Jobs died in October at age 56 after battling a rare form of cancer. Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer, took over as chief executive officer.
The case is Goodrich v. Apple, 112cv230651, California Superior Court, Santa Clara County (San Jose).
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