(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) As a growing number of former employees threatened to sue billionaire Michael Bloomberg‘s erstwhile presidential campaign, the laid-off staffers opened their last paychecks to find hundreds of dollars missing.
The campaign deducted more than $400 from paychecks to cover the cost of taxes on cellphones and laptops that the campaign provided for staffers, NBC News reported.
The Bloomberg campaign bragged about recruiting campaign staffers by giving them brand-new iPhone 11s and MacBooks.
Former employees said campaign officials told them that they could keep the gadgets after they were done working for Bloomberg. They said they were not aware that the Bloomberg campaign would charge them for the devices..
A spokesperson for the Bloomberg campaign said the staffers were informed that they would have to pay taxes for the iPhones and MacBooks.
More than 50 former campaign staffers have joined a lawsuit that seeks damages from the Bloomberg campaign for dishonestly claiming that employees would have jobs through November, whether Bloomberg stayed in the race or not.
If the plaintiffs succeed in turning the case into a class-action lawsuit, then more than a thousand plaintiffs from seven states could join the lawsuit.
Sally Abrahamson, who represents the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said the Outten & Golden law firm will investigate the campaign’s decision to deduct “purported taxes on cell phones and laptops.”
“It doesn’t sound right. How can workers be expected to pay taxes on something they didn’t want?” Abrahamson said to NBC News. “The law certainly doesn’t allow an employer to pay wages with anything but money.”
An anonymous Bloomberg campaign spokesperson defended the campaign’s actions.
“This campaign paid its staff wages and benefits that were much more generous than any other campaign this year,” the spokesperson said. “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.”