Retaliation Suit Takes On Frat Culture at Bloomberg

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) – A former Bloomberg executive who took over the job of a man ousted in a sex scandal claims in court that she had to resign because of the company’s “fraternity-fashioned corporate culture.”

Johnna Ayres filed the complaint in Kings County Court on Aug. 23 with help from the Clancy Law Firm, but many of her claims hearken back to a 2016 lawsuit brought in the Bronx by a woman identified only as Margaret Doe.

Doe claimed that her supervisor, Nick Ferris, had raped her twice and got her hooked on narcotics.

Ferris is not named as a defendant to the new suit by Ayres, nor was he charged with a crime, but the former sales executive features prominently in the complaint’s 34 pages.

Ayres says she took over Ferris’ duties in November 2015 after Doe’s sexual harassment suit led to his firing.

Though up until that point Ayres had received years of accolades for her work at Bloomberg, according to the complaint, replacing Ferris put her on bad terms with their manager, Lawrence Diamond.

A resident of Scarsdale, Diamond is the only other named defendant to Thursday’s lawsuit aside from Bloomberg and its billionaire namesake.

Ayres says Diamond viewed her as a threat because she had “developed a strong working relationship with [Doe].”

Meantime, Ayres says her new role made her aware that Ferris had “abused the use of company funds” during his employment.

“[Ayres] reported to [Bloomberg and Diamond] that Ferris improperly expensed more than $40,000 which included extravagant trips, lunches and dinners for himself and his female reports while [Ayres] was not even permitted to treat her reports to pizza in the office or attend a business/educational conference to meet with staff and her independent contractors to promote the magazine,” the complaint states.

Rather than reward Ayres for reporting this illegal conduct, she says Diamond struck back, “attempting to oust her, force her to resign and protect BLOOMBERG of a potential scandal if Ferris’ illegal practices under CFO DIAMOND were revealed publically.”

Representatives for Bloomberg declined to comment on the suit. Ayres says she resigned on Oct. 7, 2016.

When she started at Bloomberg as consumer marketing director in 2009, according to the complaint, Ayres was earning a base salary of $170,000 with a $50,000 bonus. She was promoted to global head of acquisition and consumer marketing in 2014.

The New York Post reported meanwhile that Bloomberg fired Ferris in December 2015 — well before the Doe suit was filed — following a review of thousands of emails and interviews with several coworkers confirming his inappropriate relationship with the 22-year-old subordinate.

A significant chunk of the new suit is devoted to laying bare Bloomberg’s alleged fraternity culture — from its internal messaging system, Instant Bloomberg (IB), which Ayres says doubles as “a pseudo-dating site,” to its CEO’s numerous “Bloombergisms.”

“If women wanted to be appreciated for their brains,” Michael Bloomberg is alleged to have said, “they’d go to the library instead of Bloomingdale’s.”

Ayres’ attorney, Donna Clancy, did not return a request for comment.

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