Dumped amid coronavirus, former Bloomberg campaign aides sue for pay and
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[March 24, 2020]
By Sharon Bernstein
(Reuters) - Former organizers for Michael
Bloomberg's unsuccessful presidential bid sued the billionaire's
campaign on Monday, saying he laid them off amid the global coronavirus
pandemic after promising pay and benefits through the November election.
Employees resigned from good jobs to take positions with Bloomberg's
campaign, and they now face unemployment and the loss of their health
insurance in the midst of the spreading virus, field organizers Alexis
Sklair, Sterling Rettke and Nathaniel Brown said in their complaint, one
of two proposed class action lawsuits potentially representing thousands
"They promised salaries nearly double that of other campaigns," alleged
their complaint, filed on Monday in U.S. District Court for the Southern
District of New York. "And they pledged to keep this promise regardless
of whether Bloomberg won the Democratic nomination."
Donna Wood, an organizer in Miami, said in a separate complaint that she
was laid off last week despite promises of continued employment.
Bloomberg, a former mayor of New York, was a late entrant to the
Democratic Party's nominating race and then abruptly exited after a
disappointing showing on March 3, the first time his name appeared on
Seeking to assuage concerns that he was a spoiler in the race to
challenge Republican Donald Trump for the presidency in November,
Bloomberg had said publicly that he would keep his campaign offices open
through the election so employees could work for whoever became the
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Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg greets
supporters during his Super Tuesday night rally in West Palm Beach,
Florida, U.S., March 3, 2020. REUTERS/Maria Alejandra Cardona
Bloomberg has since endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden, who
leads remaining rival Bernie Sanders in delegates. But the
nominating contest is now on hold as several states have postponed
their primary elections due to coronavirus concerns.
On Friday, Bloomberg field organizers were laid off from their jobs.
The same day, Bloomberg said he would donate $18 million to the
Democratic National Committee.
In an emailed statement to Reuters on Monday, the campaign did not
address the allegations made in the lawsuits but said Bloomberg had
been generous with employees.
"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," the campaign said.
To help former employees weather the coronavirus crisis, Bloomberg
is creating a fund to provide healthcare through the month of April,
the campaign said.
Both lawsuits, which must first be approved as a class action by the
court, seek overtime as well as full pay and benefits through the
November election for Wood and other employees. The lawsuit filed by
Sklair, Rettke and Brown seeks punitive damages.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, California; Editing by
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