Mar 23, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Fired Bloomberg staffers file class-action lawsuit over stiffed pay

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Former campaign staffers for billionaire Michael Bloomberg's 2020 bid have filed a class-action lawsuit after the former candidate reneged on a promise to pay them through November, even if he were not the nominee.

The big picture: Bloomberg, who dropped out and endorsed Joe Biden earlier this month, fired staffers on Friday and reversed his plans to form a super PAC for the 2020 race, instead transferring $18 million of his own money to the Democratic National Committee. His campaign staff is now being encouraged to apply for jobs with the party.

The lawsuit reads: "Thousands of people relied on that promise. They moved to other cities. They gave up school, jobs, and job opportunities. They uprooted their lives,"

  • "But the promise was false. After Bloomberg lost the Democratic nomination, his campaign unceremoniously dumped thousands of staffers, leaving them with no employment, no income, and no health insurance," it adds.

Between the lines: The layoffs leave former staffers jobless amid what is shaping up to be a severe economic downturn caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

  • "The Bloomberg campaign did this during the worst global pandemic since 1918, in the face of a looming economic crisis. Now thousands of people who relied on the Bloomberg campaign’s promise are left to fend for themselves," the lawsuit notes.

Details: The lawsuit is being brought by former campaign staffers from Georgia, Utah and Washington. They're being represented by Peter Romer-Friedman of Gupta Wessler PLLC, and David Berman and Ilann M. Maazel of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP.

  • Staff from six states were fired last week. They were only guaranteed pay through the first week of April and benefits through the end of April.
  • A larger round of layoffs happened earlier this month with pay only lasting through the end of March.

A campaign spokesperson told Axios in a statement Monday: "This campaign paid its staff wages and benefits that were much more generous than any other campaign this year. Staff worked 39 days on average, but they were also given several weeks of severance and healthcare through March, something no other campaign did this year."

  • "Given the current crisis, a fund is being created to ensure that all staff receive healthcare through April, which no other campaign has done. And many field staff will go on to work for the DNC in battleground states, in part because the campaign made the largest monetary transfer to the DNC from a Presidential campaign in history to support the DNC’s organizing efforts."

Read the lawsuit here.

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Go deeperArrowUpdated Mar 4, 2020 - Politics & Policy