Warners sued by peeved veep

A Warner Bros. vice president has sued the company for allegedly taking away his responsibilities without good cause and refusing to give him benefits, bonuses or vacation pay. WB would not comment on pending litigation.

In a detailed 50-page complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Peter Howard, formerly VP administration for Warners Intl. Theatrical Distribution, claimed he was victimized after a series of disputes with other Warner executives. He was transferred out of the division to the company’s Long Island office last July, and a few months later was relieved of that position.

The suit, which, among other things, charges age discrimination, says that Howard, 46, continues to receive his monthly salary but is getting no benefits or duties within the company.

The suit also names four Warner executives as defendants. They are Richard Fox, executive VP of international enterprises, who was initially Howard’s superior; Wayne Duband, president of the international theatrical distribution division, who succeeded Fox as Howard’s boss; Edward Frumkes, senior VP of that division; and Adrienne Gary, senior VP of human resources.

‘Barrage of attempts’

In particular, the suit cites a series of disputes with Frumkes and Duband, and claims that Gary engaged in “an almost constant barrage of attempts” to have responsibilities transferred from Howard’s department to hers.

Howard’s popularity within the company may also have been undermined in late 1990 when, according to the suit, he was given “the particularly unpleasant, emotionally charged and personally painful task of carrying out the directives” of a cost-cutting plan “which could only result in his being resented by the managers and supervisors in the field, while he received little or no support from defendant Fox or any of the other home office executives.”

The suit claims Duband, in particular, “did almost everything he could” to frustrate implementation of the program.

Howard says he turned down a contract settlement offer of $ 380,000, and that he had been among the highest paid executives in the company at his level because of the number of bonuses he had earned.

The financial difficulties brought about by his subsequent lack of bonuses and benefits were worsened by the fact that Howard recently began construction of a new home based on assurances from senior management that he would continue in his job, the suit said. On June 4 this year, a loan company employee attempted to verify Howard’s employment with Warner and was told Howard no longer worked there, the suit said.

Howard wants an injunction against further discriminatory actions and unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

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