We are pleased to report that the verdict in Williams v. Wyndham Vacation Ownership ranks as the top verdict by VerdictSearch for an individual employment action in California in 2016. The case also ranks as the fourth largest verdict in any employment case (class action or individual suit) in the U.S. in 2016.
A reader who wishes to remain anonymous writes, “Chris, I worked in the accounting department of a health care provider. Last year, my company discovered it had been using the wrong billing code for a key service when submitting Medicare reimbursement requests. This resulted in the government paying substantially more for the service than it should have. My supervisor directed me to compile a list of the overcharges for senior management. The company remedied the error for new reimbursement requests but never informed the government of the overpayments.
Two weeks ago, I sent an email to my supervisor asking why the company had not reported the billing error. I was told the matter had been resolved and not to raise the issue again. I would know if the company reimbursed Medicare for the overcharges. No payment was made. Last week, I was laid off without notice. I believe it was because I complained about the Medicare overcharges. I did not have a contract and they refused to give me any severance pay. What can I do?”
I received the following communication from an individual who wishes to keep his identity confidential:
“Chris, I’m a salesperson at a major corporation that puts tremendous pressure on us to meet monthly quotas. While not explicitly stated, the clear message we receive from management is do whatever it takes to meet your quota or you will be fired. I’ve observed other sales representatives repeatedly lie to customers to close deals. Their supervisors do nothing when customers complain. I want to quit my job but I also can’t stand what the company is doing to its customers. I read about the verdict you obtained for a person in a similar situation. What should I do?”
On November 25, 2016, columnist Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times profiled Patricia Williams who was wrongfully terminated after she blew the whistle on fraud at former employer, Wyndham Vacation Ownership, the nation’s largest timeshare company. A San Francisco Superior Court jury the week earlier awarded Williams $20 million for her lost earnings and emotional distress, and punitive damages.
During her tenure at Wyndham, Williams told her superiors about an array of dubious activities with a focus on defrauding elderly customers. Salespersons falsely told customers that Wyndham would buy back their ownership stakes if they no longer wanted them. Credit card accounts were opened for buyers and charged without their knowledge and approval.
$20 Million Verdict For Whistleblower Who Exposed Financial Fraud of Elderly By Wyndham Vacation Ownership – World’s Largest Timeshare Company
A San Francisco jury awarded $20 million to Trish Williams, a former Wyndham timeshare sales representative, who was wrongfully terminated for reporting time share fraud on the elderly (San Francisco Superior Court Case No. CGC-12-526187). The verdict, read late on Thursday, November 17, 2016, followed a one-month trial in which Williams was represented by Chris Dolan of The Dolan Law Firm and Anne Costin of Costin Law Inc.
Amit writes: “Chris, I work for a tech firm that sells products to a federal agency under a contract requiring a 5 to 20% discount, depending on the product sold, off of the price the company charges private businesses for the same products. My company discounts its list prices if that is what it takes to make the sale to other businesses. This happens all the time. But the discount we give the government is based on solely on our list prices. This bothers me. What can I do about this?”
Amit, you are not alone. Over the past few years, many employees in the tech industry nationwide have stepped forward as whistleblowers because their companies defrauded federal agencies. Promising a federal agency a price discount compared to what private businesses are charged and then not providing the discount when charging for the item violates the False Claims Act.