A whistleblower who took her corporate timeshare employer to court alleging she was fired in retaliation for calling out dubious sales practices told The New York Times that her “soul feels taller” after a California State jury awarded her $20 million in lost earnings and damages.
Patricia Williams, 44, told the New York Times that she has paid a heavy price for reporting unethical and fraudulent practices she says she witnessed at Wyndham Vacation Ownership where she worked as a sales representative.
Ms. Williams alleges Wyndham fired her for complaining about various sales practices she witnessed at an upscale time-share property in downtown San Francisco called the Wyndham Canterbury.
According to the New York Times, Ms. Williams alleged, “Representatives were preying on older time-share owners to get them to increase their holdings and were falsely telling customers that Wyndham would buy back their ownership stakes if they no longer wanted them. She also said that credit card accounts were opened for buyers without their knowledge and approval.”
Her lawsuit also alleged that “Employees routinely flouted rules and regulations by making oral promises to customers that differed from the terms of the voluminous contracts they signed when making a purchase,” the New York Times reported. She alleged the sales goals Wyndham set for employees were impossible to meet if representatives adhered to the company’s official policies and rules governing time-share sales.
Wyndham branded Ms. Williams a troublemaker and fired her in 2010. Despite more than 15 years of sales experience in the time-share industry, she was unable to find a sales position in any field and ended up working as a hostess at a restaurant in Virginia Beach for $9 an hour. She also told the New York Times the stress led her to start drinking heavily and her family relationships suffered.
She filed her whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against Wyndham in 2012 but the case dragged on for years.
“It’s been a long battle,” she told the New York Times. “But I had faith every minute that if I got in front of a jury of 12 unbiased people and an unbiased judge, they would see the truth.”
Her lawyer told the New York Times that he “(hopes) this case sounds an alarm for corporate America. Change your behavior – or a jury will change it for you.”
Wyndham officials have indicated they will appeal the case.
Source: The New York Times