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Julie Roehm, the former Wal-Mart marketing executive who was fired by the company and accused of ethically questionable behavior and of having an inappropriate relationship with another executive, has filed a lawsuit against the retailer accusing it of breach of contract and of smearing her reputation in the media.

Roehm charges that Wal-Mart "made false and malicious statements to the media." She has denied that there was any sort of inappropriate relationship with Sean Womack, VP-communications architecture, who was fired at the same time she was.

Other charges that circulated about Roehm’s behavior included the allegation that she allowed a potential vendor to pay for her dinner at a business meeting/social event.

Roehm joined Wal-Mart a year ago as senior VP-marketing communications, and agreed to a compensation package that reportedly included base pay of $325,000, a signing bonus of $250,000, annual incentive-based payments and restricted stock worth up to $300,000.

While she engineered a review of Wal-Mart’s marketing functions during her short tenure there, hiring a new ad agency to revamp the company’s image, the results have not been as successful as Wal-Mart would have liked. When Wal-Mart fired Roehm and Womack, it also fired the new agency, had another review and hired yet another agency.

According to Advertising Age, “Roehm says she was notified of her termination by Wal-Mart's chief financial officer ‘ostensibly because [she] hasn't been fulfilling the expectations of an officer of the company.’ But she claims Wal-Mart ‘provided no specific examples of any conduct ... which did not fulfill the expectations of an officer of the company, because no such conduct exists.’” Roehm also “is looking to retrieve items left in her office at the Bentonville, Ark., headquarters. She's demanding the return of her media exchange files, material from presentations and work she did prior to joining Wal-Mart, and copies of her Microsoft Outlook folders, including her personal contacts.”

In a meeting with reporters at an unrelated event yesterday, Roehm reportedly said that leaving Wal-Mart has been “very free and liberating,” and she said that wherever she goes next, it will be “anyplace that doesn't end in –ville.”
KC's View:
Wal-Mart better have incriminating pictures of Roehm and Womack if it is going to make some of those accusations stick.

We suspect that this lawsuit is going to end up in some sort of settlement, the details of which won’t be revealed.