Aerospace Firm TransDigm Sued for Firing Whistleblower

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

Phyllis Santistevan-Sullivan, a former vice president of finance at TransDigm, filed a lawsuit against the aerospace and defense company in February 2023 for firing her when she called out accounting irregularities. According to David Dayen, writing in the American Prospect, TransDigm was accused by Santistevan-Sullivan of adjusting sales numbers and dates in order to appear to make quarterly targets. The defense contracting firm, led by company president Dave Bender, told Santistevan-Sullivan that she was not allowed to discuss any accounting irregularities and, shortly after, the company listed her position as vacant and open for hire. Santistevan-Sullivan also alleged discrimination at TransDigm on the basis of her race and gender. She was the only person of color and one of only two female executives working for the company. TransDigm indicated it would respond to the lawsuit by April 3.

In November 2020, Santistevan-Sullivan informed her supervisor that she believed revenue manipulation was happening “intentionally and unlawfully.” She alleged that “transactions were moved forward into the end of the quarter to either hit the revenue target, or moved out of a quarter where targets were already hit, to juice the next quarter. Consistently hitting revenue targets triggered bonuses for top executives.” She singled out Kevin Hanson, vice president of sales, in her complaint. After she presented her concerns, her performance reviews suffered. The company retaliated by firing her and replacing her with a new hire.

As a public-traded company, TransDigm, which includes a number of subsidiaries, is motivated to produce profits for its shareholders.

As of early April 2023, Santistevan-Sullivan’s allegation have yet to receive coverage from any of the major US news dailies, though more specialized outlets, including Business Wire and Law360, have reported on it.

Source: David Dayen, “Lawsuit: Defense Contractor Fired Whistleblower for Reporting Accounting Irregularities,” The American Prospect, March 29, 2023.

Student Researchers: Sean Barbera, Jackson Grady, Megan Griffin  (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

Faculty Supervisor: Allison Butler (University of Massachusetts Amherst)