Big Box News: Office Depot Sues Ex-Employee Whistleblower

I wish I was making this up, but no, it’s true. Office Depot is suing the man who accused them of asking him to falsify documents.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, Office Depot is claiming that Earl Ante, who recently filed suit that Office Depot had asked him to falsify documents in the ongoing case of Office Depot overcharging the city of Berkeley, was in fact responsible for the overcharges, and they’re out to prove it in court.

The salesman, Earl Ante, says in his lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco that he lost his job in the fall of 2008 after he refused orders to falsify data in the company computer when Office Depot found out Berkeley was about to audit its contract.

Office Depot initially declined to comment on the lawsuit but decided to break its silence on its investor-relations Web site with a full-on assault against Ante.

“(A)ny overcharges to the City of Berkeley were caused by Mr. Ante himself, who was responsible for managing that relationship,” the posting states.

So basically, the timeline is as such:

-Office Depot overcharges the city of Berkeley by $289,000.

-Office Depot asks Earl Ante to falsify documents, he refuses and is fired.

-Earl Ante sues Office Depot for firing him unjustly, and blows the whistle on their overcharges.

-Office Depot panics and blames the closest person at hand…Earl Ante.

Now, obviously, I’m not a lawyer, I don’t know what evidence is on the table, and I don’t know how the verdict will play out. These are just my assumptions based on what I’ve seen so far.

And what I’ve seen so far are cowardly, playground-level tactics from Office Depot to cover up one of their biggest blunders. The suit says Ante was in charge of the Berkeley accounts, and that’s why they were processed incorrectly. But what about the other whistleblowers? What about the FIVE OTHER STATES launching their own similar investigations?  Was Ante in charge of those, as well? Not likely.

Overall, I am constantly amazed by Office Depot’s ability to disgust me with their tactics. First business, now legal: it seems there is no low that OD won’t stoop to. Just another reason to avoid the big-box entirely.

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