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Tuesday, March 01, 2005, 02:20 pm PT (05:20 pm ET)

Former head of Mac hardware sues Apple over wrongful termination

A former top Apple Computer executive who left the company last year is suing the Mac maker for wrongful termination, CNet News.com is reporting.

"Tim Bucher, who headed Macintosh Hardware Engineering until last fall, filed suit last month in Santa Clara County Superior Court alleging that Apple terminated him without cause and failed to pay all due compensation, including restricted stock grants and a bonus," the publication says.

In the lawsuit, filed Feb. 4, Bucher claims to have suffered damages including the loss of income as well as emotional distress. He is suing for lost compensation, as well as punitive damages and other penalties. A case management conference is scheduled for May 31, 2005.

Bucher was hired by Apple in March 2003 to assume the roll of vice president of Macintosh System Development. In May of 2004 Bucher was promoted to senior vice president of Macintosh Hardware Engineering, replacing Jon Rubinstein, who moved on to oversee the company's newly created iPod division.

According to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by CNet News.com, Bucher alleges that on Nov. 10, Apple Executive Vice President Tim Cook told him to go home, saying only that "a change is coming." The same day, Bucher says that Apple CEO Steve Jobs told him, "You're not a failure. Even God couldn't have done both of the jobs I pushed you to do."

Two days later, Bucher said that Jobs told him that people sometimes thought of him as a "manic-depressive." In the same conversation Jobs reportedly told Bucher "I'm not sure what I am going to do, but I think I am going to have to ask you to leave the company."

After departing in December, sources told AppleInsider that Bucher was replaced by Peter Mehring, former founder of Umax Corporation. The reasons behind Bucher's departure were never made public, until now.

The full story is available at CNet News.com.