Salespeople Accuse Westgate Resorts of Bias

LAS VEGAS (CN) – A saleswoman claims in court that Westgate Resorts fired her for complaining of racist policies that caused her to be chastised “for inviting an African-American client to sit at a ‘Caucasian table.'”
     Janine Virga, who is white, sued CFI Sales and Marketing dba Westgate Resorts, and several affiliates on Jan. 9 in Clark County Court.
     Former salesman Charles Layne, who is black, sued CFI and Westgate on similar charges, on Jan. 14 in Federal Court.
     The companies are the only defendants, though in their lawsuits both plaintiffs name managers who allegedly enforced the allegedly discriminatory policies.
     Virga claims that the time-share company’s sales director Victor Curry “established a policy and procedure” of matching salespeople to “potential clients based on race, ethnicity, and sex.”
     Virga claims she took two potential buyers who are black on a property tour, and company president David Siegel asked her why she did so, when she is white.
     Another time, she says, she invited a potential client who is black to sit at a table. Siegel then “chastised” her “for inviting an African-American client to sit at a ‘Caucasian table,'” Virga says in the complaint.
     When she didn’t make the sale, Virga says, Siegel told her it was because she “invited the African-American to the ‘Caucasian table.'”
     When she complained to her supervisors, Virga says, she was told the policy would not change and that salespeople “needed to accept” it.
     Virga claims she told her supervisor she would resign if the discriminatory policy did not change, and Westgate Resorts fired her in November 2010.
     In his complaint, Layne says he began working as a salesman for Westgate Resorts in 1994 in Orlando, and was promoted to sales manager in 1995, before the company assigned him to the Westgate Towers property in Kissimmee, Fla.
     Layne claims the “industry standard” is to assign salespeople to prospective clients on a rotational basis instead of “race, color and gender.”
     But in 2008, he says, when he began to work under company vice president of sales Richard Siegel, he observed race, ethnicity and gender “gradually becoming a determinative factor in matching buyers to salespeople.”
     Layne claims that Richard Siegel “was the chief architect of an elaborate and detailed system of unlawful discrimination having an impact and effect on all salespersons” working for Westgate Resorts in Las Vegas.
     “All black salespersons were matched with prospective black buyers of time-share units” and “all white salespersons were matched with prospective white buyers,” Layne says.
     He claims that Hispanic salespeople were matched with Hispanic clients, and lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgendered salespeople were matched with corresponding clients.
     Layne says he witnessed company officials admonishing a black salesman and his supervisor for pairing the salesman with a white family.
     When he complained about the discriminatory policy, Layne says, he was told he was not being a “team player” and Richard Siegel “began a scheme and/or process of punishing and demoting” Layne over several months, reducing his earnings.
     Layne says he resigned in October 2010.
     Virga seeks damages and punitive damages for racial and sexual discrimination, harassment and retaliation. She is represented by Christian Gabroy, of Henderson.
     Layne seeks damages and punitive damages for racial discrimination and retaliation.
     He is represented by John Peter Lee.
     Westgate Resorts chief operating officer Mark Waltrip did not return a call seeking comment.

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