Ex Foundry VP Sues Company, CEO
On Tuesday, Drusie Demopoulos, former vice president of marketing for Foundry Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FDRY), a switch vendor, slapped Foundry and its CEO Bobby R. Johnson Jr. with a multimillion dollar lawsuit.
Demopoulos alleges she was fired last year because of her objections to discrimination and consistent harassment by Johnson, according to the suit filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court.
The main point of contention was over Demopoulos’s plans to have children, according to the lawsuit.
“Throughout Ms. Demopoulos’s employment with the company, Bobby Johnson repeatedly questioned her about the status of her personal life, her marital and family plans," said the complaint. “Bobby Johnson Jr. continually criticized Ms Demopoulos and complained to other employees and officers of Foundry about Ms. Demopoulos’s desire to have children and family.”
During the three years she worked at Foundry, Demopoulos had two miscarriages, one of which happened days before the company’s record-setting IPO in September 1999. In her complaint she cites doctors' concerns over the amount of work and stress level that she experienced while working at the company. Four days after she sent an email to Johnson expressing her concerns, she was fired.
Also in the suit, she claims that Johnson repeatedly invaded her privacy and was hostile to employees with children or, as in her case, employees who wanted children. Additionally, she accuses Johnson of screening job applicants on the basis of their looks, where they lived, and their family status.
Domopoulos also claims she received calls from Johnson at all hours of the night questioning her dedication to the company. “Ms. Demopoulos was criticized for not working overtime or traveling extensively after her two miscarriages,” reads the complaint.
Demopoulos and Johnson worked together for over ten years at Centillion before it was bought by Bay Networks and then later sold to Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT). The two had a disagreement just before Demopoulos was fired, say sources.
“Drusie said, ‘Well, maybe I’ll quit,’ and Bobby came back at her and said, ‘You just did.’ The next day all her stuff was packed up, and she was escorted out of the building,” says one source, who didn’t want to be named.
Demopoulos, who had almost a year left in vesting options before she was fired, is seeking a return of her stock options, which are worth approximately $65 million.
Much of the original team that started with Foundry back in 1997 will be completely vested this year. “I’m sure a lot of people are waiting until they can cash out. That’s a lot of money to leave on the table,” adds the source.
Shares in the company skyrocketed from their initial offering price of $25 and shot up to over $200 last March. Currently it is trading at $59 a share, down almost ten percent today. Even without the $65 million worth of options that Demopolous says she lost when she was fired, she is still estimated to have about $85 million in company stock.
Foundry did not return phone calls at press time but issued a statement this morning denying all allegations. It has thirty days to answer the complaint, and court proceedings are not expected to begin until at least March 2001.
-- Marguerite Reardon, senior editor, Light Reading, http://www.lightreading.com