A former Viacom vice president is suing the media conglomerate for wrongful termination after she claims she spoke out against what she considered an illegal tax scheme.
Nataki Williams, Viacom’s vice president for financial planning and analysis from 2007 to 2014, claimed in a lawsuit filed in New York on Tuesday that she was fired after voicing opposition to a plan that would have attributed revenue generated by the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” franchise to the Netherlands, thus avoiding U.S. taxes.
“TMNT was owned by an entity in the Netherlands, but all of the business concerning those rights took place in New York,” the lawsuit reads. “New York personnel made the licensing decisions, and the licensing contracts were negotiated by attorneys in New York and were subject to New York law.”
Williams also claimed that the company also planned to institute similar plans with other properties they own, including “Spongebob Squarepants” and “Dora the Explorer.”
She said she was instructed by Hans DeGroat, Viacom’s special vice president of international tax, to not list any details of the proposed tax plan in company emails.
Williams went on maternity leave on Jan. 15, 2014 and was informed that she was terminated on April 9. Viacom claimed the reason she was fired was because she listed her partner, the father of her child, as her spouse on her benefits paperwork.
Williams is seeking reinstatement to her position, in addition to back pay with interest. In lieu of reinstatement, she is asking for front pay as well.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.