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This plot about Motorola’s rightful-or-wrongful dismissal of CFO Paul Liska continues to thicken through the release of some court documents that shows both sides accusing the other of dishonesty and betrayal. If you remember, last month Liska sued his former employers after he was involuntarily terminated for cause. But Liska is claiming something much worse than “wrongful dismissal” — he is claiming “retaliatory discharge,” which is legal language for a “whistle-blower lawsuit.” Today, the Chicago Tribune is reporting the contents of some publicly available court documents.
Liska’s complaint, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, is sealed, but Motorola (NYSE: MOT) filed a public response in late March, and his attorneys followed in kind with their response several days later, according to the Tribune. Based on those documents, the Tribune reported two sides of the story. It is Motorola’s belief that Liska, who they called a “treacherous officer,” sensed that management was displeased with his performance, and so he hatched a “scheme designed to portray himself as a whistleblower and demand millions in return for his silence.” From Liska’s point of view, he said his firing was inconsistent with the “consistent praise” he received from senior management, and that Motorola’s lawyers in turn “concocted fairy tale of jealousy and revenge,” that would “destroy his reputation in retaliation for raising legitimate concerns” about Motorola’s ailing cellphone unit. Liska was employed at the Schaumburg-based company for less than a year.
According to the documents, Motorola co-chief Greg Brown dismissed Liska on Jan. 29, and announced his departure on Feb. 3 in a quarterly earnings call. But it was in a Feb. 19 SEC filing that Motorola choose to terminate him with cause due to “serious misconduct and incompetence.” Liska claims the 16-day lag gave Motorola’s lawyers enough time “to concoct the false and malicious story” described in the company’s response to his complaint.