Dumped amid coronavirus, former Bloomberg campaign aides sue for pay and benefits

March 23 (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 of workers.

"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 ballots.

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 Democratic nominee.

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.

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El precandidato presidencial Mike Bloomberg habla durante un evento de campaña en Hardywood Park Craft Brewery en Richmond, Virginia, el sábado 15 de febrero de 2020. (James H. Wallace/Richmond Times-Dispatch vía AP)
A Mike Bloomberg supporter holds up a sign as protesters gather outside Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, where Democratic presidential candidate Bloomberg was speaking during a campaign event at the brewery in Richmond, Va., Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. (James H. Wallace/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is joined on stage by supporters during his campaign launch of "Mike for Black America," at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg speaks during a campaign event at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond, Va., Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. (James H. Wallace/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP)
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, right, is introduced by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner during his campaign launch of "Mike for Black America," at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during his campaign launch of "Mike for Black America," at the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg greets former North Carolina Gov. Beverly Purdue as he arrives to speak at a campaign event in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg arrives to speak at a campaign event in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Mike Bloomberg 2020 election campaign logo, graphic element on white
Former North Carolina Gov. Beverly Purdue addresses the crowd before introducing Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg to speak at a campaign event in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks to a crowd at Footnote cafe in Winston Salem, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. This is the first day of early voting in North Carolina. (Walt Unks/The Winston-Salem Journal via AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks to supporters during his visit in Greensboro, N.C., on Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. (Khadejeh Nikouyeh/News & Record via AP)
People lineup outside of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center during a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg Mike Bloomberg, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 in Chattanooga, Tenn. (C.B. Schmelter/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, signs autographs as Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, right, joins him onstage at a campaign event Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Campaign worker Wendell McCoy hands out signs at a campaign event for Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg talks to supporters Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Democratic presidential candidate former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg addresses supporters during a campaign stop in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Democratic presidential candidate former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks to reporters after a campaign event, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Burlington, Vt. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
A supporter of Democratic presidential candidate former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg wears an "I Like Mike" button during a campaign event, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Burlington, Vt. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Democratic presidential candidate former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks during a campaign event, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Burlington, Vt. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Democratic presidential candidate former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, speaks to State Rep. Samuel Young, center, and State Rep. Daniel Noyes at Kestral Coffee Roasters, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Burlington, Vt. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, with Portland, Maine Mayor Kate Snyder, center, greets a patron at Becky's Diner, Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Democratic presidential candidate, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at the ​U.S. Conference of Mayors' Winter Meeting, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Michael Bloomberg hablando en un acto en Tulsa, Oklahoma, el 19 de enero del 2020. Bloomberg se postuló a la nominación presidencial demócrata y realiza una campaña poco ortodoxa, ignorando a sus rivales en las primarias y apuntando todos sus cañones a Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, left, talks with Rev. Robert Turner, right, during a service at the Vernon American Methodist Episcopal Church in Tulsa, Okla., Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks to supporters Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020 in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg speaks to supporters Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Democratic Presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg waits to speaks during a rally Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Democratic presidential candidate and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks with supporters at the Bounce Innovation Hub, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020, in Akron, Ohio. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Democratic presidential candidate, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, walks upstairs at a coffee shop in Richmond, Va., Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
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(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, California; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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