A Democratic Party candidate for the Osceola County Commission said this week that she was considering taking legal action after her employer, Marriott Vacations Worldwide, fired her for trying to unseat a candidate the company supports.
Viviana Janer told the Orlando Sentinel that Marriott gave her a choice of quitting her campaign or losing her job.
She said that the company warned her that she would be terminated from her job of 11 years “if I did not stop the effort to unseat Mr. Quiñones.”
“After a decade of accolades and promotions, I was told my job would be abruptly terminated if I did not drop out of the race,” she said. “Despite my wish to continue working, I felt I could not turn my back on the many citizens of Osceola County who worked so hard to get me elected. I refused to drop out of the race, and on Friday I was fired from a job I loved.”
In a termination letter, Senior Vice President and Chief Audit Executive Julie Meyer explained that Janer had never obtained permission to run for office.
“You admitted that you had concluded that your supervisors would not authorize you to pursue your candidacy while remaining in your position, and for that reason you did not raise it to management’s attention,” the letter stated.
Janer said that she had been following a company policy that says employees “are encouraged to participate in the political and governmental process, but must be certain that they are doing so using their own resources and their own time.”
But Marriott Vacations Worldwide spokesman Ed Kinney defended the firing, arguing that the company’s competitors have properties in Osceola, and that Janer’s election could pose a conflict of interest.
Campaign records for Janer’s Republican opponent, John Quiñones, showed that Marriott International gave him $1,000. Quiñones received another $1,000 donation from the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association, which is located at an adjacent address to Janer’s former place of work.
On Monday, Quiñones said that he had no knowledge about why Janer was fired, and pledged to return Marriott’s contribution.
“The Marriott companies financially support Mr. Quiñones,” Janer explained to the Osceola News-Gazette. “However, that should not give anyone the power to fire good employees and therefore promote a favored candidate.”
“I believe in what we are doing and I will continue with my campaign. If necessary, I will take legal action to protect the rights of citizens of Osceola County to elect the candidate of their choosing without unfair influence of special interests.”
Watch the video below from the Orlando Sentinel.