Ex-Novell engineer files sexual harassment claim

A former engineer at Novell Inc. has filed a sexual harassment suit against his old company and his ex-boss.

Jeff Merkey, now the chief executive of the Timpanogas Research Group, brought the charges against Novell and Denice Gibson, the senior vice president of its Internet Products Group.

Novell deniues the charges.

Merkey, who left Novell in April to form Timpanogas Research Group, is also involved in a separate civil lawsuit with Novell over allegations relating to the development of Novell's Wolf Mountain clustering technology.

That dispute involves Timpanogas and its two other founding employees, including a former Novell colleague, Darren Major. Novell claims that Merkey stole the Wolf Mountain clustering code and used it to forward Timpanogas' projects. Merkey and the other defendants have filed a countersuit against Novell alleging defamation.

Merkey now claims he was sexually harassed on three separate occasions while employed at Novell. In his deposition to the Anti-Discrimination Division of the Industrial Commission in Utah, Merkey claims Gibson attempted to touch him in a sexual way "and attempted to solicit me to sleep with her."

After declining Gibson's alleged advances, Merkey said, he suffered retaliation. He did not get more specific.

"Novell allowed the retaliation to continue, and it became so bad that I was forced to leave the company," Merkey said in the complaint.

In a prepared statement issued Tuesday afternoon, Novell dismissed Merkey's allegations. The company said an external investigation conducted last fall concluded that the charges against Gibson were "unsubstantiated and inconsistent."