The former executive vice president of marketing at Universal Pictures has sued the company and parents MCA Inc. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. over his firing a day after he announced his resignation in April.
In his suit, Simon M. Kornblit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and a declaration of rights.
Kornblit, in a 46-page complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, described an angry phone call he received from Tom Pollock, head of Universal Motion Picture Group, in which Pollock repeatedly called Kornblit incompetent. The April 27 call from Pollock came a day after Kornblit told executives in his department that he would leave Universal in mid-December when his employment agreement expired, the suit said.
Kornblit had decided to leave because MCA and Matsushita allegedly had reneged on a promise to provide him with stock incentives and other benefits comparable to those he had been receiving before Matsushita acquired MCA in 1990 .
Kornblit had signed an amendment to his employment agreement in December 1990 giving up rights to a “golden parachute” because he was promised comparable benefits, the suit said.
Despite the promise, an incentive program announced almost two years later offered Matsushita American Depositary Receipts instead of MCA stock as provided in his original contract, Kornblit said, and the new incentives were both substantially less valuable and did not not vest ownership for six years.
The suit says Pollock offered Kornblit a new employment contract at a substantial salary increase last Dec. 31, but Kornblit then asked if arrangements would be made to make up for his lost incentive benefits.
Kornblit also wanted the title president of marketing, “commensurate with his responsibilities and comparable to that used in the industry.” Neither request was granted.
On April 23, Kornblit says he was told that Pollock had approved a $ 25,000 raise for him, but he decided to leave anyway.
Despite acknowledging he had given Kornblit the raise, Pollock, during his April 27 call, repeatedly said he was firing Kornblit for incompetence, the suit said. “Pollock screamed at Kornblit and was abusive, and his tone was angry, vicious and hysterical,” the complaint said. Kornblit was told to leave by April 30.
Subsequent publicity “clearly implied” that Kornblit had been fired for cause. The company has also failed to make payments owed to Kornblit since April 30, including the promised $ 25,000 increase.
The firing came three months before Kornblit’s 60th birthday, thereby denying him further benefits, the suit said.