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Frederick's Ex-CEO Claims Wrongful Firing

April 02, 1999|ABIGAIL GOLDMAN, retailing reporter

The former chief executive of Frederick's of Hollywood, the racy-lingerie company's first female leader, said Thursday that she is suing the company for wrongful termination, alleging it fired her without cause.

Teresa Patterson contends she was terminated just weeks after receiving assurances that the board of directors was pleased with her performance and that her job was safe. She then discovered the company was looking to replace her, according to a complaint filed Wednesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

According to court papers, Patterson said she was mistakenly faxed an agreement between Frederick's Chairman David E. Lipson and an executive search firm.

The suit, which also alleges breach of employment contract, among other things, and seeks more than $1 million, contends that Patterson is due two years of her $300,000 annual salary and bonuses as severance, which she says the company has denied her. Patterson also says the company stopped payment on her final paycheck and is seeking to evict her from her company-owned home, contrary to written agreements. Frederick's says the allegations are "completely false and without merit."

"We have been attempting to work collectively with Terry to work out an amicable departure, and this really came out of the blue for us," said Seth Jacobson, a spokesman for FOH Holdings Inc., parent of Frederick's.

Patterson took over as CEO in January 1998 with the task of turning around the struggling company; her last day was March 12.

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