BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) — A former staffer from billionaire Mike Bloomberg’s failed presidential bid sued the campaign Monday, saying the tycoon reneged on his promise of pay and benefits through November 2020, leaving the team without health insurance in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Defendant’s termination of FOs and other campaign employees deprived them of promised income and health care benefits, leaving them and their families potentially uninsured in the face of a global pandemic,” the 12-page class action states, using an abbreviation for field organizers.
Bloomberg field organizer Donna Wood is the lead plaintiff behind the action, saying both punitive and compensatory damages are appropriate to deter the former New York City mayor from behaving similarly in the future.
A spokesman for the campaign issued an anonymously attributed statement Monday in reaction to the lawsuit, asserting that many Bloomberg staffers will go back to work for the Democratic National Committee in battleground states.
“This campaign paid its staff wages and benefits that were much more generous than any other campaign this year,” according to the statement. “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 health care through April, which no other campaign has done.”
Attorneys at Emery Celli brought a second, similar federal class action in Manhattan just hours after the first Monday.
“Michael Bloomberg and his campaign made a promise,” this complaint states, led by Alexis Sklair, Sterling Rettke and Nathaniel Brown.
“They promised thousands of loyal, hardworking staffers that they would have a job in both the primary and general elections, and the opportunity to work to fight and defeat Donald Trump in November,” the complaint continues. “Now thousands of people who relied on the Bloomberg campaign’s promise are left to fend for themselves.”
Bloomberg entered the Democratic race late, in November 2019, and immediately embarked on a spree of lavish spending. Wood says he tried to make up for lost time by making big promises to potential employees. News reports also showed he offered organizers $6,000 a month as well as free iPhones and three meals a day.
When Bloomberg dropped out on March 4 following disappointing Super Tuesday results, the complaint says he fired his field organizers and other similar employees despite a contract promising they’d be paid through November. Bloomberg’s promise to keep paying hundreds of staffers whether he was the nominee was widely publicized.