Penney Abruptly Fires COO

J.C. Penney Co., Inc. has fired Catherine West as executive vice president and chief operating officer, effective immediately. The Dallas-based department store did not give a reason for her dismissal.

West, ranked 46th on the Fortune list of the 50 post powerful women in business, was hired only five months earlier. The company announced the firing Dec. 28.

West was responsible for store operations, property development, and logistics. Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, III, Penney chairman and chief executive officer, has taken over responsibility for those roles.

Published reports say that West will receive $10 million in severance pay. Her severance reportedly includes 18 months of her $750,000 annual salary and bonuses plus $1 million to cover benefits she forfeited by leaving Capital One. Most of the package comes in the form of accelerated stock options and restricted stock.