DID THE RECENTLY OUSTED CEO of W.R. Grace & Co., J.P. Bolduc, fire a whistle-blowing accountant who questioned his ethics? In a recently filed federal court suit against both Bolduc and the company, a former Grace auditor says he alerted a few Grace board members that Bolduc may have improperly awarded a Grace contract to a construction outfit the ex-CEO had ties to.
Norman Eatough, a 25-year Grace employee who seeks reinstatement and back pay, claims he was canned as audit chief in June, 1994, after telling the board's audit committee about Bolduc's potential conflict. A source close to Grace tells BUSINESS WEEK that this involved the contract to build a new $92 million plant in Milwaukee for 79% Grace-owned Ambrosia Chocolate. The work went to J.A. Jones, based in Charlotte, N.C., on whose board Bolduc sits. The source adds that Ambrosia President John Timson fought the Jones selection but was overruled by Bolduc. There was no comment from Ambrosia or from Jones.
After a falling-out with the Grace family, Bolduc was forced to resign in March amid allegations of sexual harassment. Through an attorney, he denies all allegations, including Eatough's. Grace says the whistle-blower suit is without merit and insists Eatough's dismissal was "valid."
Ambrosia Chocolate is no stranger to controversy. Cannibalistic serial killer Jeffery Dahmer once worked at the company.