Six former sales employees of Realtor.com operator Move Inc., who filed a lawsuit alleging they were the victims of an “abusive” and “toxic” work environment, have ended their case.
Michael Traylor, an attorney for the six, led by plaintiff Sarah Aharon, filed a request to dismiss the entire suit with prejudice — meaning permanently — last month and the case has been closed. The filing did not specify whether the parties had settled. Traylor declined to provide comment for this story.
The March 9 complaint had alleged that Move, its parent company News Corp., the National Association of Realtors and former Move executives Sanjay K. Jaisingani, aka “Leo Jay”; and Bill Anthony Sperry, aka “William Sperry”; conspired to create a workplace where the plaintiffs were discriminated against on the basis of their age, religion, disability, sex and/or race.
In addition, the complaint alleged the defendants stole the sales reps’ commissions and distributed them amongst themselves.
The plaintiffs also said they were fed lies about Move’s products that they then “innocently” repeated to Realtors. Specifically, the complaint alleged that the defendants gave the sales reps information about the quality and quantity of their products and services including the “exclusive” nature of the products and told them to offer agents discounts, preferred pricing and other incentives in order to make sales.
However, that information was, unbeknownst to the sales reps, “frequently false” and part of a “scheme to defraud customers/clients through each plaintiff ” and then charge back or claw back the plaintiffs’ commissions, according to the complaint. This “claw-back policy” was “more harshly applied” to sales reps over the age of 40, according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs’ attorney also alleged sales commissions were deducted from wages when customers canceled sales after learning that they were lied to, thereby forcing the sales reps “to become an insurer of the employer’s business.”
A spokesperson for Move and News Corp. declined to provide comment for this story. Asked for comment on the dismissal and whether NAR had settled with the plaintiffs, NAR spokesperson Mantill Williams told Inman, “NAR will be dismissed from this matter as part of the Plaintiffs’ dismissal. We expect the court to enter the dismissal any day, which is merely a formality.”
The discrimination alleged in the 88-page complaint includes providing the plaintiffs, on the basis of their membership in a protected class, with fewer resources, lesser quality assignments, lesser compensation and job benefits, less credit for accomplishments, harsher criticism and discipline, inaccurate and unfair performance reviews, fewer promotions and less respect for their professional opinions.
According to the complaint, News Corp., Move and NAR “produced a culture of racism, sexism, discrimination, harassment and retaliation” and failed to do the training, background checks and supervising that would have promoted a work environment free of discrimination and harassment.
The complaint alleged 20 counts against the defendants including negligence; breach of contract; theft of sales commissions; unfair competition; fraud and deceit; age, gender, race, religious and disability discrimination; intentional infliction of emotional distress; and whistleblower retaliation.
Former employees have made such allegations against Move before. In January 2018, former Move sales rep Brian Bobik alleged he was wrongfully terminated from Move, in retaliation for objecting to and refusing to participate in what he believed to be unlawful conduct as well as for requesting accommodations for a disability. Bobik alleged sales reps were instructed to sell agents bogus leads and lie to them about the terms of their contracts with the company and the exclusivity of the leads.
In addition, Bobik alleged that if agents canceled a credit card after being unhappy with the leads Realtor.com provided for a particular ZIP code, Jay would instruct Move sales reps to continue charging the agent for the underperforming ZIP code, using another credit card the agent had on file — without the agent’s permission.
And in September 2020, Suzanne Mueller, Move’s former senior vice president of industry relations, alleged the company discriminated against her on the basis of sex and age and failed to provide “a safe working environment and failed to adequately supervise employees.” She also alleged Move retaliated against her for participating in a sexual harassment investigation against a NAR executive.
Both lawsuits settled.