EMC Counters 'Whistleblower' Claims

Company says employee accusations of a coverup are 'baseless'

January 25, 2005

2 Min Read
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EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) is refuting claims of an employee who alleges his bosses told him to cover up a chip failure in Symmetrix products.

EMC spokeswoman Anne Pace says claims by plaintiff Jack Wade, detailed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper last week, are "baseless" and "not credible." She says EMC is confident that Wade's suit will ultimately prove to be without merit.

Actually, news of the Symmetrix "chip meltdown" isn't new. Byte and Switch approached EMC last June about rumors that certain Symmetrix systems had been affected by faulty parts (see News From the SAN Shoals). At the time, EMC acknowleged there had been a problem affecting a "limited batch" of Symmetrix 8000s that are now several years old.

EMC spokesman Mark Frederickson wouldn't be specific at the time, but he conceded the problem surfaced in SCSI components from an unspecified supplier in certain Symmetrix systems (not DMX ones) after extensive use. He also told us EMC had proactively contacted customers who might be affected and swapped in new components as needed. The problem, he said, was "largely behind" EMC.

What's new here is the employee's claim, outlined in the newspaper report, that EMC allegedly knew the chips in some Symmetrix systems were faulty and tried to cover the problem up, sometimes by telling customers they were due for an upgrade, then quietly switching chips without detailing the problem.Wade filed suit in October 2004 in Ohio's Franklin County Court of Common Pleas (case number 04-cv-010327). A copy of the complaint itself isn't available online, and neither Wade's lawyer nor EMC was able to produce it by press time.

Wade remains an employee of EMC, Pace states. She says she's not at liberty, though, to say what his status is (i.e, whether he's suspended, on permanent disability, or otherwise). He does not appear to be working full time.

At this point, there just isn't enough information available from enough reliable sources to determine the potential effect Wade's allegations could have on EMC. What is available is an array of intriguing facts and factoids that are largely inconclusive.

It may be significant that the customers Wade reportedly names in his filings don't have much to say. One of these, the State of Ohio's Department of Administrative Services, appears unfazed. "We got what we ordered from EMC. There's nothing out of the ordinary here," says spokesman Ben Piscitelli. When asked if the agency will pursue Wade's allegations that EMC hookwinked them, Piscitelli says, "No. Why would we?"

Another customer, Bank One, declined to comment but confirmed there is no suit by the bank against EMC. Convergys Corp. (NYSE: CVG), also named by Wade, declined to comment.Stay tuned for more information as events unfold.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

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