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Whistleblower Awarded $5.45 Million

August 16, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A former PeopleSoft recruiting manager has been awarded $5.45 million in damages after a jury determined she was wrongfully fired for whistleblowing.

Kaaren Yarborough, 59, who worked for the Pleasanton-based business software maker from November 1993 to November 1995, had said company officials inflated the number of female and minority employees so they could keep federal contracts, according to her lawyer Philip Kay.

After a four-month trial in Alameda County Superior Court, a jury found PeopleSoft had ``maliciously and wrongfully terminated″ Yarborough for complaining about the false reports. Late Wednesday, it awarded her $1.95 million in compensatory damages and $3.5 million in punitive damages.

California offers protection to workers who suffer discrimination for speaking out in defense of the public.

Yarborough was fired two days before an onsite audit by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, Kay said. He said the company believed it needed to report increased numbers of women and minority employees in order to abide by federal affirmative action requirements.

At the time, PeopleSoft had multiple contracts with the federal government worth about $50 million, according to Kay.

The company said its employees were 60 percent women when there were actually 45 percent women and they reported 21.7 percent minorities when there were actually 13 percent, according to Kay.

``PeopleSoft feels that the verdict rendered is not consistent with the evidence we presented at trial,″ the company said in a statement. ``We are analyzing the verdict with our attorneys and we’ll determine what steps to take next.″

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