Ex Wyndham employee fired for speaking out

An ex-Wyndham executive is suing the company after they sacked him for blowing the whistle on unfair practices within the company.

Fabrizzio Sapien worked for Wyndham for nearly 17 years and had recently been promoted to an executive role in Florida with more than 500 employees under him. But he says he was unfairly dismissed after he tried to tell those higher up about ‘improper business practices and even a sexual harassment complaint made against another executive.

Sapien claims he is bringing the case against Wyndham to highlight the bad practices of timeshare resorts and ‘be an agent of change for their culture’. It all started in 2019 when Sapien was the senior vice president of sales and marketing for one of Wyndham’s largest resorts, Bonnet Creek. The lawsuit claims that in September 2019 Sapien learned that $700,000 worth of timeshare contracts had all been cancelled in one day and all under the same code name. He also claims that the Chief Operating Officer, Geoffrey Richards, told him that the company had reversed more than $300 million in contracts sold to customers so it would make the companies default rates look better than they actually were. By doing this Wyndham could ensure their stock value did not go down and they were heading along the same path as competitors in relation to customers cancelling contracts.

Default contracts usually happen when a customer cancels within the allowed rescission period or learns that they were mis-sold their contract due to non-disclosure of the correct information during sales presentations. But resorts are known for highly underestimating these figures as there are so many unhappy owners desperate to get rid of their timeshares. If a sales representative did not disclose certain information during the presentation or withheld important details about contracts, then this can be considered a form of mis-selling and grounds to make a claim against the resort. In addition to this, many people are given falsehoods during sales meetings, such as it is an investment, which timeshares are not, so if any of the above applies to you then you too could make a claim against the resort.

The lawsuit also claims that the revenue and commissions for cancelled contracts was paid for using employee earnings, in other words to recoup the lost money for cancelled contracts, Wyndham take that money out of employees’ wages and that included Mr Sapien. In response the allegations made in this lawsuit Wyndham said these claims a baseless and the company will continue to defend itself and win at trial.

The lawsuit also goes on to claim that Sapien received complaints from staff about another executive who was flirting with members of staff and arranging inappropriate meetings with them. Several people complained about this un-named executive and nothing was done. Mr Sapien claims he even went to the VP to discuss his concerns regarding sexual harassment and in September 2020 he received a phone call telling him he was fired. He claims a month earlier he had received a promotion and he was let go because he had highlighted issues within the company that they were not willing to address. As part of his severance deal Mr Sapien was asked to sign a contract which stated he was let go due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

It seems Mr Sapien may have a case if his claims can be proven and his lawsuit claims his allegations of bad practices and harassment at the company are protected under Florida whistle-blower statutes, so he has.

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