Osceola County commission candidate fired from job over campaign

Candidate says she was terminated over refusing to drop out of race

Local 6 News at 6:00p
Local 6 News at 6:00p

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Viviana Janer is running to become the first-ever Hispanic Osceola County commissioner. Now she's doing it unemployed.

[READ: Letter of termination | Marriott Policies ]

"After a decade of accolades and promotions, I was told by my job that my loyal and faithful years of service would be abruptly terminated if I did not drop out of the race," said Janer reading from a prepared statement.

Janer, a Democrat, said Marriott Vacations Worldwide, her former employer, notified her with a letter that she had been fired on Sept. 19. Janer was a senior manager in internal auditing.

The termination letter from MVW read, in part:

"Campaigning for and/or serving as a County Commissioner create a conflict of interest with your employment with the Company because, among other things, the Commission has and can exercise governmental authority over individuals and corporate entities located or seeking to locate, or come to include, associates, contractors, other business partners and the Company itself.

"At no time did you bring your candidacy to the attention of your front line supervisor, any other individual in your supervisory chain, or the Department of Human Resources, as required...

"You stated in a meeting on September 17 that... you determined that you would make no disclosure of your candidacy to Marriott Vacations Worldwide...

"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 nine months earlier or anytime thereafter.

"Your candidacy for the County Commission and your fulfillment of this political role... create a conflict of interest for MVWC...

"You were given the opportunity to cure the conflict...

"You chose not to remedy the situation and rather refused either option, thus forcing the company to cure the situation and terminate your employment effective September 19, 2014."

Janer would not say if she notified her managers of her candidacy. Her attorney only said the letter was a misstatement of the facts.

"As some of you already know, the Marriott companies financially support the incumbent John Quinones," said Janer. "However that should not give anyone the power to fire a good employee and thereby promote their favorite candidate."

Marriott Vacations Worldwide Global Vice President Edward Kinney acknowledged to Local 6 that Marriott International had donated to Quinones' campaign, but insisted Marriott International and Marriott Vacations Worldwide are entirely separate companies. Kinney said MVW owns no properties in Osceola County.

MVW's employee policy on personal activities states "Marriott's culture encourages individual participation by Associates in the political and governmental process," but Kinney said that's only if the participation doesn't create a conflict of interest.

Janer, originally from Puerto Rico and raised in New York City, said she is prepared to take legal action.

"What is my plan? To get elected on November 4th," said Janer.

Local 6 emailed, called and tweeted Janer's challenger, incumbent Republican John Quinones, and even attempted to contact him at County Commission chambers. Quinones did not respond.

About the Author: