Couldn’t happen to a nicer oligarch. Not that a lawsuit matters to a man who just shelled out $930 million on a presidential bid and only won one primary contest — and still has more 98% of his starting net worth. One of the campaign workers laid off by Michael Bloomberg after his embarrassing flop has sued him in federal court for falsely promising work all the way through to November, and wants to turn it into a class-action lawsuit for all her fellow Bloomberg 2020 colleagues:
A former field organizer for Michael R. Bloomberg filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against his presidential campaign Monday, arguing that she and thousands of others laid off this month had been tricked into taking jobs they were told would last until November.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York City, argued that the campaign had breached its contract with the at-will employees, recruiting them to work on Mr. Bloomberg’s bid under false pretenses and failing to pay them necessary overtime.
In dismissing the workers eight months earlier than promised, the complaint said, the campaign had “deprived them of promised income and health care benefits, leaving them and their families potentially uninsured in the face of a global pandemic.” …
Mr. Bloomberg — a multibillionaire who entered the Democratic race in late November and dropped out in early March — assembled an army of campaign workers quickly, attracting them with unusually high pay, full benefits and the lure of campaign work through the fall, regardless of who won the Democratic nomination. He spent more than $900 million along the way and repeatedly promised to deploy his campaign in service of whoever the party ultimately selected.
But on March 9, days after he exited the race, Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign laid off field workers in all but six battleground states, asking if they were open to relocating to one of those states — Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — or if they wanted to be referred to another presidential campaign.
That’s not the only lawsuit launched today. Another suit (also filed in New York’s federal court) has three former campaign workers alleging fraud and deception in their hiring, Politico reports:
The filing comes on the same day as another class action brought by a former Bloomberg field organizer that similarly argues the employees were tricked into taking jobs they were told would continue for a year.
The lawsuit by the three former workers in Georgia, Utah and Washington state, also filed in federal court in New York City, contends that the field organizers were fraudulently induced to accept jobs with the Bloomberg campaign based on the promise of guaranteed salaries though November. The ex-field staffers who filed the suit, Alexis Sklair, Nathaniel Brown, and Sterling Rettke, are represented by Peter Romer-Friedman of Gupta Wessler PLLC, and Ilann M. Maazel and David Berman of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP.
Bloomberg on Friday purged all of those workers in six battleground states and guaranteed they would be paid only through the first week of April, with their benefits expiring at the end of that month. The first big round of layoffs across the rest of the country happened earlier this month, with their pay lasting though March 31.
Bloomberg hiring materials described as coming from headquarters promised work with “Team Bloomberg” though November, regardless of whether he became the Democratic nominee, provided that the aides working across the country were willing to relocate. Bloomberg’s team reiterated their plans to follow though — even if only in spirit — after the initial round of layoffs, when top campaign advisers indicated in emails and staff conference calls that they would be given priority on a planned Bloomberg super PAC.
Bloomberg’s decision to forego a super PAC provided the final straw for the lawsuits. Until then, these campaign workers had at least the hope of a job offer to continue their pledged employment, albeit with a need to relocate to continue it. Democrats might also wonder whether they’d been duped about Bloomberg’s commitment to running a shadow campaign against Donald Trump too, but at least they got a payoff. All these employees got was the shaft.
The court will likely give strong consideration to consolidating these complaints into a single class action suit, given that the cases will be so similar in standing and substance. It almost certainly won’t last long enough to go to trial, though. The lawsuit states that “thousands of people relied on that promise” of full employment through November, but let’s put the number at 10,000 just for the sake of argument, and $35,000 for an average annual salary. Seven months of that salary would come to a little over $20,416, or around $205 million at the most in real damages.
That’s a lot of money… for us lesser mortals, anyway. It’s less than half a percent of Bloomberg’s net worth (or was before the market dive of late). If Bloomberg settled it for $50 million, everyone would get five grand minus their attorney fees, and it would barely show up in Bloomberg’s books. It’s so relatively cheap that it’s a bit puzzling why Bloomberg didn’t offer a severance payout in the first place — especially since it was so clearly obvious that he’d reneged on his promise. If he’s dumb enough to fight these lawsuits, he’ll end up facing some more severe damage claims … and Bloomberg simply isn’t that dumb.