Apple's angry former hardware chief is suing the company for wrongful dismissal.

Tim Bucher who led Apple's Mac hardware engineering unit until last autumn filed his case yesterday. He claims Apple ended his employment for no reason, and also that it did not pay him the full value of his compensation package (including stocks and bonuses).

Before his employment was terminated, Bucher was head of Macintosh Hardware Engineering. He joined Apple in March of 2003 as vice president of Macintosh System Development. He was promoted to senior vice president of Macintosh Hardware Engineering in May 2004. Apple reorganized itself into Macintosh and iPod divisions at that time.

MacCentral reports Bucher's claims that Apple: "Made his termination effective retroactively, thus depriving him of stock options he was vested in prior to his dismissal."

That report adds a statement from Bucher's lawyers, Hopkins & Carley: "The evidence in this case demonstrates that there was no cause for Bucher's termination," according to lead counsel Dan Pyne.

Hot gossip suggests corporate power play

"During his nearly two years at Apple, he did an outstanding job for the company and was well-regarded by colleagues on the Macintosh team. This is a case of a senior executive being treated differently than his peers and falling victim to a corporate power play. We are confident that when the facts of this case are evaluated by a jury, we will prevail."

Bucher oversaw development of the Mac mini. Despite this achievement, the MacCentral report says Apple CEO Steve Jobs told Bucher that people thought Bucher was "sometimes manic depressive," and that his coworkers didn't "know how to handle that."

MacObserver is the only published report that claims Apple also offered Bucher psychological counselling. His complaint seems to suggest Apple fired its hardware guru because he was suffering from some psychological problems, the MacObserver adds.

"You're not a failure", said Jobs

Cnet adds an earlier statement from the company CEO: "You're not a failure. Even God couldn't have done both of the jobs I pushed you to do," Jobs reportedly told Bucher.

"Mr. Jobs then added, 'I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but I think I'm going to have to ask you to leave the Company,'".

He was told to resign or be sacked on November 14. He refused to resign and Apple officially terminated his employment on January 3, according to MacObserver.

He received his final salary payment and a formal discharge notice in early January. The cheque included "no money paid pursuant to the 2005 Executive Bonus Plan for the fiscal quarter ended on or about December 31, 2004," Bucher alleged.