As Roehm Slaps Wal-Mart With Suit, Fleming Gets Promoted

Julie Seeks $1.5 Million; Former Boss Tapped as Chief Merchandising Officer

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NEW YORK ( -- How much could Julie Roehm cost Wal-Mart? Try $1.5 million.

That's how much she's demanding from her former employer in U.S. District Court. The breach-of-contract lawsuit Ms. Roehm filed also alleges Wal-Mart is guilty of fraud and misrepresentation and that it retained several of her personal files, including "Media Exchange files," likely referring to her work on an auction format for media buying.

According to the complaint, Wal-Mart refused to pay Ms. Roehm $325,000 in severance pay, stock options valued at $500,000, a restricted-stock award valued at $300,000 and annual incentive payments valued at as much as $406,250.

Wal-Mart's response denies almost all the allegations. While it does concede the terms of her employment agreement, it adds that Wal-Mart was under no contractual obligation to pay Ms. Roehm any money since her dismissal was "the result of a violation of Wal-Mart policy."

Ms. Roehm was dismissed as VP-marketing communications by the Bentonville behemoth Dec. 4. Wal-Mart has never publicly stated the precise reasons for her termination.

Two people who seem to have emerged unscathed from Roehm-gate are Wal-Mart's John Fleming and Stephen Quinn. Mr. Fleming, chief marketing officer, last week was elevated to chief merchandising officer, overseeing four of the retailer's five merchandising divisions. He will be replaced in the top marketing role by Mr. Quinn, who becomes exec VP-chief marketing officer.

"This is a bump in the road for Wal-Mart," said one person familiar with the situation. "But with Stephen Quinn now in there, it'll settle down. The biggest danger in this always is that if you're not careful, it can divert you from doing what's best for your customers."

Ms. Roehm, meanwhile, was her usual public self last week, appearing at a Reuters event in Times Square to discuss the Super Bowl. In chatting with reporters, she said she was meeting with "four or five" companies every day while in New York.
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