Bloomberg saleswoman sues over rape, rampant drug culture
A former Bloomberg LP sales executive drugged and raped a saleswoman on his staff twice over a number of weeks, an explosive lawsuit claims.
The attacks by Nick Ferris, a former global business development head at the company, happened after work in February and March 2013 at his Manhattan apartment, the lawsuit claims.
The first attack happened after Ferris and his 22-year-old subordinate enjoyed drinks at a business dinner and then downed vodka and smoked pot at his apartment, the suit alleges.
The woman, whose identity is not disclosed in the suit, said she went to sleep in a guest bedroom after partying with Ferris and his girlfriend — only to be awakened in the middle of the night by the sexual attack, according to the suit, filed in state court in the Bronx.
Ferris has not been charged with any crime. The civil suit claims civil rights violations, a hostile work environment and sexual discrimination.
The woman, identified only as Margaret Doe, claims Ferris got her addicted to powerful narcotics after she started working at Bloomberg in September 2012 — which he withheld after the first attack until she agreed to go again to his apartment, it is alleged.
On the second visit to the apartment — after Ferris gave her narcotics while at work — he again raped her, the lawsuit claims.
The suit — which also names Bloomberg LP and its owner, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as defendants — also claims Ferris sexually harassed the woman, who sold subscriptions to the company’s newsletters, and others. The suit seeks $20 million in damages.
In one such incident after the first attack, Ferris scheduled a meeting with the woman at a conference room at the company’s Manhattan headquarters, it is alleged.
At the meeting, Ferris said he wanted to continue to have unprotected sex with her — and asked her “to use a condom with any boyfriend she had because he was having unprotected sex” with his girlfriend.
The woman claims that requests sent to human resources to move her desk were ignored, and she was later reprimanded during an investigation into another male Bloomberg employee who had harassed her.
The suit, which was filed in December but hasn’t been reported on until now, alleges what it calls “The Bloomberg Drug Culture,” in which Ferris “manipulated” the woman, for “personal and professional purposes,” into taking drugs in order to reach sales goals.
Ferris would hide drugs throughout the Bloomberg office in a mailbox, a Tic Tac container and a book, it is alleged.
Once, Ferris sent drugs disguised as a Christmas present to the woman at her parents’ Connecticut home, the suit claims.
Ferris improper behavior started during the first few months she was employed at Bloomberg, the suit alleges.
In that time, Ferris pushed the woman to attend boozy one-on-one work meals at Le Cirque — where he would remind her that her employment status was in his hands, it is alleged.
During these meals, where the two would dine alone, Ferris would improperly submit the check as a business expense, saying he was meeting with clients, according to the suit.
Ferris wasn’t the only person to harass the woman, it is alleged. At a 2012 Christmas party at the home of Executive Editor Ted Merz, a second editor, Joe Brusuelas, made “lewd comments” and propositioned her to leave in a “private car,” according to the suit.
[This reporter worked at Bloomberg under Merz from 2012 to 2014 and was present at the above-mentioned Christmas party. The reporter left early and didn’t witness any of the behavior described in the complaint.]
Brusuelas, who’s no longer at Bloomberg, declined to comment.
In February 2013, after two months of escalating approaches, Ferris took the woman out for drinks, where the two drank alcohol and he pushed her to take “pain pills,” according to the suit.
It was after this business meal that the first rape took place, it is alleged.
After going to the guest room to sleep, the woman “awoke to find Ferris standing over her,” the suit says. The woman “was lying half-off the side of the bed with Ferris holding her legs up towards him,” court paper state.
After that, she “recalls looking down and seeing the dress she wore to work that day flipped up, only half covering her, and her underwear and tights removed.”
The suit doesn’t make it clear if the girlfriend knew about the alleged rape. The girlfriend, reached on her cell phone on Friday, declined to comment.
The suit goes on to claim other bizarre and inappropriate actions from the former Bloomberg manager.
At one point, he invited himself through a co-worker to the 50th birthday party of the woman’s mother, the suit alleges. At the party in the family home, Ferris took pictures of the woman’s family photographs and later Photoshopped a childhood photo of himself into the picture, it is alleged.
Ferris later sent the Photoshopped photo to the woman, the suit alleges.
In June 2013, months after the alleged rapes, Ferris underwent circumcision surgery, then “showed her graphic photos of his partially exposed penis wrapped in bandages, and remarked how his circumcision made him extra sensitive to ‘good’ vaginas,” the suit claims.
The woman was also peppered for more than a year with inappropriate e-mails, it is alleged.
In one, he wrote: “You are beautiful, you are stunning. You look incredible naked.”
The woman complained to HR but claims that requests to move her desk were ignored, it is alleged. In fact, the suit claims, she was later reprimanded by Merz during an investigation into another male Bloomberg employee who had harassed her.
Merz, who was in Nicaragua when reached on his cell phone on Friday, said, “I don’t have a comment and I don’t know anything about it,” before hanging up on a Post reporter.
The woman, who currently lives in The Bronx, said that she experienced anxiety, depression, and ulcers from the stress of working at the company, and later filed for disability to attend an inpatient rehab in Philadelphia for people with eating disorders.
Ferris was fired from Bloomberg in December 2015 after a review of thousands of e-mails and interviews with several coworkers confirmed that he had an inappropriate relationship with the woman, a source said.
In court papers, Bloomberg LP denies that there is a Bloomberg drug culture — and all other allegations.
A lawyer for Ferris, who left Bloomberg in December 2015, says the allegations are a lie.
“We deny the allegations of the complaint, and we will be vindicated in court,” Paul Shoemaker, Ferris’ lawyer, told The Post.
Donna Clancy, a lawyer for the woman, declined to comment beyond the suit.
Ferris joined a Texas financial education company, Simpler Trading, last September as chief operating officer, according to a company announcement at the time.
A receptionist at the company told The Post on Friday that he no longer worked there.
(Dugan worked for Bloomberg from 2012-2014, including for some of the editors named in the suit but has no knowledge of any of the allegations.)
A former sports marketing executive at the New York sports radio station WFAN is suing the station, CBS Radio, two of its top sales department executives and midday host Joe Benigno, accusing them of sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment, retaliation and discrimination
Lauren Lockwood, 40, filed the lawsuit in Kings County Court in Brooklyn on July 17. Lockwood says she was the target of unwanted sexual advances, unwelcome contact, assault, unwanted communications, innuendos, retaliatory action and eventually wrongful termination.
The 39-page lawsuit describes the sales department at WFAN as a frathouse-like workplace, with brawls between co-workers, alcohol flowing at corporate outings and events with potential clients, company-funded trips to strip clubs to try to win new business and rampant sexual harassment of women by superiors and colleagues. Lockwood claims in the lawsuit that the human resources department at WFAN ignored discrimination, harassment, drug use, alcohol use, gambling, workplace violence, workplace romantic relationships and affairs in violation of the company’s policies, with HR Director Margaret Marion creating an “anything goes” atmosphere, which Lockwood’s attorney called described with the terms, “wild west, ‘Mad Men,’ ‘Animal House,’ and sexist.”
Benigno, 64, has worked at WFAN since 1995 and is currently the host of “Joe & Evan” with Evan Roberts on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. He is accused in the lawsuit of making unwanted advances toward Lockwood and retaliating against her after she rebuffed him.
The lawsuit also names Mark Zuckerman and Sean Argaman, two of Lockwood’s bosses.
Lockwood’s attorney, Donna Clancy, of The Clancy Law Firm in New York City, did not immediately reply to a request for comment from Heavy. Benigno, Zuckerman and Argaman also could not be reached for comment. A spokesperson for Entercom, the parent company of WFAN and CBS Radio, told the New York Post the company does not comment on pending litigation, but said, “we do intend to defend the company vigorously.”
Benigno’s agent, Mark Lepselter, told the New York Daily News, “Joe categorically denies the allegations. My father once told me on any story, always consider the source and those who live in glass houses. We’re more than prepared to handle the situation if need be.”
Lockwood, a University of Michigan graduate and former Detroit Tigers intern who started working at CBS Radio in 2004 and began selling ads for WFAN and the Yankees Radio Network in New York City in 2012, is seeking $5 million in damages. She was fired in 2017 after being punched in the face while trying to break up a fight between two of her co-workers who were arguing over the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor boxing match, according to the lawsuit.
You can read the full lawsuit at the bottom of this report. Here are some of the accusations made in the lawsuit:
Benigno Is Accused of ‘Whispering’ in Lockwood’s Ear About Having a Threesome With His Wife, of Showing Her a Photo of His Wife With a Prostitute & of Ranking Female Employees Based on Their Attractiveness
Joe Benigno is accused in the lawsuit of making unwanted advances and sexual jokes and innuendos toward Lauren Lockwood in 2015 and 2016, when she was working on the same floor where his radio show is broadcasted from. Lockwood says that during commercial breaks, Benigno would come to her cubicle “to flirt with her and ask her personal questions.” He commented about her appearance, hair, jewelry and clothes, according to the lawsuit.
Lockwood says during those occasions, Benigno, “rubbed” her back and “whispered in hear ear about having ‘threesomes’ with him and his wife and prostitutes.” He also talked about “having ‘threesomes with him and his wife’ and other females in the office,” Lockwood says in the lawsuit.
At one point, Lockwood says Benigno described “in detail” the “threesomes” he had with his wife and a prostitute in Las Vegas. He also showed her a nude photo of his wife, Terry Benigno, with a prostitute and propositioned Lockwood to join him, his wife and a prostitute in sexual intercourse, Lockwood claims in the lawsuit.
Lockwood also claims Benigno told him about his fantasies about the company’s HR director, saying he can picture her being “wild in bed” and “hanging upside down from the chandelier,” according to the lawsuit. She also says Benigno admitted to having an affair with an unnamed female sales assistant. Lockwood claims the affair was well known around the office for two years.
Benigno also “frequently gawked at female employees and rated them on their physical appearances,” Lockwood claims. He told Lockwood, besides her, another woman was his favorite because she was “gorgeous and cool,” and then said two others were also in his “top 3,” saying they are “beautiful,” and the “body” on one of the women, “oh God.”
Lockwood also claims Benigno “flirted” with various female employees, telling one of the women he likes some “meat on the bones” and telling her to “shake it.” According to the lawsuit:
Benigno’s office had a collage of Sports Illustrated bathing suit models plastered all over, along with a wall of photographs of female employees, and blown up photos of himself in the middle of these female employees, with personalized signatures from the female employees.
Lockwood also says that Benigno created a “short dance video” for the radio station’s sales town hall meeting and he “chose his top rated female employees around the office to dance with him in the video.
Lockwood says when Benigno sexually harassed her, she rebuffed him, “turned red with embarrassment and felt extremely uncomfortable.” She also says in the lawsuit that she would have to leave her desk during commercial breaks. She said when Benigno did find her, his producer would have to repeatedly call him to get him back on the air.
Lockwood Says Benigno Told a Coworker ‘Can’t Even Give Her a Compliment’ After She Rebuffed Him & Then Retaliated Against Her
Lockwood says in the lawsuit that after she rebuffed Benigno’s advances, he complained loudly to a coworker, “can’t even give her a compliment.”
She also says that she was taunted by her coworkers about it. According to the lawsuit, an unnamed male coworker sent her emails poking fun of Benigno by attaching photos of Anna Nicole Smith sitting on her 88-year-old husband’s lap.
Lockwood says the harassment stopped after Mark Zuckerman, her boss, spread rumors about her and another male coworker. Lockwood says Zuckerman and Benigno were known to be close friends. Lockwood says when she rebuffed Benigno, Zuckerman retaliated against her on his behalf.
Lockwood Says Her Coworkers Did Whiskey & Pickleback Shots on the Job & Took Prospective Clients to Strip Clubs on the Company’s Dime
Lockwood details the “Mad Men” culture in the sales department at WFAN in the lawsuit. She says CBS Radio “fostered a culture that permitted drinking alcohol in the office during work hours and at sporting events. Jameson Whiskey and pickle back shots were often the choice of alcohol and monies were given by the managers to the assistants to buy the liquor.”
She said in 2016 and 2017, male managers and sales executives, including her boss, Argaman, drank shots in the office on Fridays with their assistants. They also permitted alcohol to be served to employees and their clients at CBS Sports Radio events. Ad execs were given a budget for alcohol of about $2,000 per game if hosting clients, but more could be approved. Lockwood describes what she says happened in December 2015 on a party bus during a tailgate party at a Jets/Giants game:
Defendants chartered a luxury bus that was owned by another client to transport clients from their radio station to MetLife stadium. Plaintiff’s supervisor, Argaman traveled on the luxury bus with Defendants’ clients. The luxury bus was equipped with a stocked refrigerator containing alcohol for clients and employees attending the event. Tequila was served at 10:00 a.m. on the way over to the stadium and alcohol continued to be served once the clients and the employees entered the company suite for the Jets/Giants game.
At this event, one of Defendants’ clients was so intoxicated he fell down in the suite and later passed out on the bus ride home. During the rowdy event, the client damaged the bus by shattering a marble counter when opening a beer bottle. Defendants were made aware of the damages incurred by their client who owned the bus.
Lockwood says that when one of her colleagues hosted her clients at a Yankees game in her absence, she checked in with him to see how things were going. She claims he responded by saying one of the female guests wanted to, “suck his d*ck.”
Lockwood also says the radio station and her managers knew and permitted the practice of taking clients to strip clubs in hopes of bringing in new business. She said one of her coworkers took clients to a Yankees game and then a strip club. According to the lawsuit, he used Argaman’s business credit card to pay for the trip. He then told his coworkers the “sordid details” of the trip while hungover the next day and sought reimbursement for two prostitutes he says he bought, according to the lawsuit. Lockwood says Argaman’s reply was, “do you think we’ll get the business?”
Lockwood says Argaman would comment about her personal life, telling her once, “if you were a football player in the draft your pick would drop from 1st round to 8th round.” She also says Zuckerman spread a rumor that she and a coworker were spending time together and had been “fooling around” at the office. She says HR did nothing about the “false rumors.”
Lockwood also claims in the lawsuit that various employees were rumored or known to be having sexual relationships within the office.
She Says CBS Radio Fostered a ‘Bro’s Club’ Where Male Managers Favored Male Employees Over Her & Other Females Despite Their Strong Performance
Lockwood claims in the lawsuit that there was a “Bro’s Club” environment at her workplace, where male managers favored male employees over her and her female coworkers. She says males were given lower sales quota numbers, were assigned to more lucrative accounts, were given bigger expense accounts and were given access to things like the Yankees Legend Box on Opening Day to attract better clients.
Lockwood says in the lawsuit she was given a higher goal and was criticized more often by her bosses.
According to the lawsuit, Lockwood’s former employers interfered with her ability to find a new job. Lockwood says in the lawsuit that when she applied at another radio group, the prospective employer emailed CBS Radio to ask about her. She says her supervisor gave negative information that prevented her from being hired.
“Defendants’ defamation of Plaintiff and interference with her economic opportunities has adversely impacted her reputation in sports radio on a national level,” the lawsuit states. “In comparison, Defendants have protected and supported their male talent and radio personalities from adverse action and damage to reputation despite some having been brought up on criminal charges for misconduct.”
Lockwood Says She Was Punched in the Face While Trying to Break Up a Drunken Brawl Between Colleagues Over Whether Floyd Mayweather or Conor McGregor Was the Better Boxer
Lauren Lockwood says she was fired after an incident on July 23, 2017, at a luxury suite at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. She says in the lawsuit that she was attending a Mayweather/McGregor Hype Tour Boxing Match at the arena along with various employees and clients who were invited to the CBS Radio suite.
Lockwood says alcohol was brought into the suite and most, if not all, of the attendees were drinking. According to the lawsuit, she arrived with a former coworker about 7:30p.m. after work.
“While watching the boxing event, tensions rose and remarks were exchanged by male employees comparing the two boxers. An argument broke out between defendants’ male employee and one of their former employees which erupted into an altercation involving several males in the suite,” according to the lawsuit. “During the altercation, which was captured on video, (Lockwood) was struck in the face, pushed, knocked down and her arms held. She tried to break away, defend herself and help her former coworker, who was being assaulted in the suite by other male employees.”
Lockwood says she was called into a meeting the next day with Argaman and HR director Margaret Marion and was told she was being fired for inviting her former CBS Radio coworker into the suite and for acting “erratically.” Her boss told her she was being “held responsible for the entire drunken altercation in the suite.”
Lockwood claims she was fired without proper cause and without a proper investigation and without a review of the evidence, including the video. Lockwood says the video shows her being assaulted, with her arms held, and being knocked down while trying to defend herself as well as she could while being one of the only females in the suite among drunken male employees who were fighting.
Lockwood says none of the male employees involved in the brawl were disciplined.
You can read the full lawsuit here:
Carpenters’ union inches toward independence, but members say monitor ignored problems
It’s been nearly a decade since several members and leaders of the city’s carpenters’ union were last indicted on racketeering and fraud charges. Since then, the New York City District Council of Carpenters has implemented several changes to help keep the group corruption-free. But some think the union hasn’t gone far enough.
During a status conference in Manhattan Federal Court on Friday, Donna Clancy, an attorney for two fired union members, said the organization’s independent monitor, Glen McGorty, failed to take immediate action over accusations against the group’s then-president. She said that a female employee, who still works for the District Council, notified human resources of inappropriate behavior by Steve McInnis, who resigned in February amid unspecified misconduct allegations. In a letter to Judge Victor Marrero earlier this month, Clancy said McInnis had stepped down following allegations of sexual harassment.
McInnis had been re-elected to his post in late December, and Clancy said McGorty was aware of the allegations before that point. The worker’s complaints were ignored, Clancy said, and she was forced to continue working under “hostile conditions.”
“She should’ve been taken away from working with this person,” Clancy said.
In a letter to the judge earlier this week, McGorty said there had been rumors that an employee complained to human resources about McInnis, but said no such report was made until Dec. 18. He launched an investigation at that point because “allegations of McInnis’ conduct finally came to light in a sufficiently credible, specific and actionable manner.” He noted that Clancy’s clients — Michael Donnelly, a former labor organizer, and Peter Corrigan, a former business agent and Local 212 member — had notified the union’s investigator about the rumors but both also had “ample personal reasons to discredit” McInnis. (Corrigan’s uncle was part of an opposing campaign in the election, and Donnelly blamed McInnis for his being fired, according to McGorty.)
Though Clancy asked the court to intervene to assure that her clients didn’t face retaliation from the union, she ultimately agreed to bring the issue to the union’s inspector general, a new watchdog position within the organization. Clancy declined to comment further after the conference concluded.
A recurring theme of Friday’s conference was the issue of the union’s monitorship, which is a result of a 1994 consent decree with the federal government to help weed out the influence of organized crime in the organization. But even after a monitor was appointed, problems persisted. In a 2011 report — two years after the organization’s leader was indicted — the union’s-then monitor noted that mob ties still loomed large.
On Friday, Executive Secretary-Treasurer Joseph Geiger noted that in the past four years, the union created two watchdog positions — inspector general and chief compliance officer — and have taken other steps to assure that “corruption that may be lurking out there” doesn’t find its way back in. He didn’t specifically address the allegations made by Clancy but noted that issues with certain union members persisted.
“There are still some dissident members who will stop at nothing to undermine the leadership team,” he said.
Marrero asked McGorty at what point the union will be able to operate without a monitor. McGorty said that he hopes his role is much less “intrusive” by the end of his current term, which ends in March 2019. Still, he said the requirements of the 1994 consent decree — which barred union officials from affiliating with organized crime, among other things — would remain a permanent fixture. He also said that an independent party will always be needed to oversee the union’s elections. Ultimately, though, it’s not yet clear when the union will be monitor-free.
“My goal was to be the last monitor,” McGorty said. “I don’t know if that will happen.”