BlackBerry Sues Top Exec To Stay At His Post

Michelle Maisto Lead

How bad are things at BlackBerry? Michelle Maisto says the case of Sebastien Marineau-Mes is not a good sign

As if BlackBerry didn’t have enough troubles, it seems the Canadian mobile phone company has to sue its senior staff to prevent them from leaving.

Sebastien Marineau-Mes (pictured) is senior vice president of software at BlackBerry. He’s been heavily involved with the move to BlackBerry 10. It’s based on QNX, which was Marineau-Mes’ previous company, bought by BlackBerry in 2010.  He’s pretty solidly embedded in BlackBerry, promoted to a level where he has 3000 people – including other vice presidents – working under him.

Sebastien marineau Mes BlackBerry

How to win loyalty….

He’d been in talks to leave the company since September 2013, and Apple offered Marineau-Mes a position in December. The job, vice president of Core OS, plays to his strength in mobile operating systems, so Marineau-Mes turned in a resignation letter and gave his two months’ notice to BlackBerry.

The glitch in that plan: His contract with BlackBerry required him to provide six months’ notice.

So BlackBerry sued.

According to a ruling from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Marineau-Mes claimed he had “Good Reason” to break the contract. After John Chen became CEO, there were discussions about how Marineau-Mes’ role “might ultimately be narrower in scope.”

“Such conversations, in my view, would not constitute ‘Good Reason,’ particularly given the changes that BlackBerry was experiencing,” wrote the judge.

He added that Marineau-Mes’ contract states that to claim “Good Reason” he had to present his gripes to BlackBerry and give it 15 days to address them. The judge also deemed BlackBerry “entitled to its costs.”

All of this doesn’t necessarily indicate back-to-work time for Marineau-Mes, to whom BlackBerry has been paying vacation pay since the mess began in January. However, wrote the judge, “It is likely that BlackBerry will require his services in the future.”

As SVP, Marineau-Mes is responsible for approximately 3,000 employees, including 11 vice presidents and 70 directors, according to the court document.

The state of BlackBerry is such that anyone who thinks the company is a sinking ship has likely already jumped off, and those who think they can save it have jumped on to begin the rescue. How not great would it be to have to reinstate—as the overseer of 3,000 people—someone who tried to jump, was basically called a deadbeat jerk by a court and is now really, really not feeling the BlackBerry love?

Given news that BlackBerry is at work on OS 10.3 — which was recently leaked — one imagines that BlackBerry is really, really in need of a top-notch software leader (someone, you know, good enough to be hired by Apple).

This really is not ideal for BlackBerry.

BlackBerry had a bumpy time last year! Try our 2013 BlackBerry quiz!

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