KNOXVILLE (CN) - Executives with the Wyndham hotel and resorts chain retaliated against an employee who sued them over unpaid wages, deeming him the "Anti-Christ" before they fired him, a lawsuit claims.
Jesse Pierce filed his wrongful termination lawsuit against Wyndham Vacation Resorts Inc. and Wyndham Vacation Ownership Inc. in Federal Court on Tuesday.
In his complaint, Pierce says his problems began after he filed a class action against the timeshare companies for unpaid overtime compensation.
"Shortly after defendants were served with and became aware of Mr. Pierce's FLSA lawsuit, they retaliated against him," the complaint states. "For example, on or about February 1, 2014, they involuntarily removed him from the sales team and the experienced manager that he had been working with for several years and transferred him to another team at a different work site with a different, inexperienced manager who had supported defendants in the FLSA lawsuit."
Wyndham also allegedly wrote him up for poor performance when he was a top salesman and suspended him without pay even though an investigation found he had done nothing wrong.
Then, in June 2014, "Regional Vice President Dave Labelle stated to Mr. Pierce, 'Corporate HR and corporate legal view you as the Anti-Christ,' that 'you have rocked the boat' and 'cost the company millions' and that 'there is nothing I can do to protect you' from defendants' illegal conduct, among other admissions and statements evidencing defendants' retaliatory motives," the lawsuit says.
Pierce was fired the next month for alleged company policy violations and Wyndham denied him an appeals process usually given to discharged employees, the complaint states.
He says he was fired for both filing the overtime pay lawsuit and for taking FMLA leave for a heart condition that was made worse by stress at work.
"Defendants perceived and feared that Mr. Pierce would need further medical treatment, reasonable accommodation, and FMLA leave or short or long term disability leave and pay and willfully acted to avoid the requirements of applicable laws and implementing regulations," according to the complaint.
Pierce seeks compensatory and punitive damages, back pay and lost benefits.
He is represented by Douglas Janney III in Nashville.
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