Oh Eff-Word: Bartz’s Profanity About Yahoo Board Could Cost Her $10M

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I’m not sure what the blogosphere’s having more fun with: watching the brouhaha escalate over former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz’s colorful comments about Yahoo’s board of directors, or just reprinting what she said without asterisks.

Yes, Bartz was rather coarse when she told Fortune that the board “fucked [her] over” in her first public interview since she was pink-slipped. She also referred to the board as “doofuses.” And that tongue-lashing, justified or no, may end up costing her big-big. Fortune speculates that Bartz’s language could be just what Yahoo needs to snip a little (or a whole lot of) cash from her severance package.

(MORE: Former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz: ‘These People F—ed Me Over’)

It’s called violating your contract, and that’s what Bartz may have done when she dropped the F-bomb and mocked Yahoo’s board in the interview, published yesterday. Citing an anonymous source “close to the company,” Fortune reports that Bartz had a non-disparagement clause in her contract with Yahoo. That clause, if violated, could allow Yahoo to nix a $10 million payout, due if she was sacked.

Bartz, 63, was CEO of Yahoo for nearly three years and had a storied reputation for holding little back. According to Gawker, during a meeting shortly after coming onboard at Yahoo, she told staff that she’d “dropkick to fucking Mars” anyone who leaked or gossiped to the press.

Bear in mind this is all just speculation and innuendo. Fortune‘s source could simply be a troublemaker (or wisenheimer), there may be no disparagement clause, and even if there is, it may not extend to relatively playful insults like “doofuses,” or amped up illustrations of angst at losing one’s job.

MORE: Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz Was Fired Over the Phone

Matt Peckham is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @mattpeckham or on Facebook. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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