Sexual assault allegations place eXp under fire in New York

The top-ranked brokerage in the country by transaction sides, eXp Realty, is now under fire from the New York State Comptroller. In a letter sent to eXp Realty and eXp World Holdings CEO Glenn Sanford, Thomas DiNapoli asked the brokerage to open an independent investigation into the sexual harassment and assault allegations that have been raised against the firm in lawsuits and a New York Times exposé.

As the state’s comptroller, DiNapoli is New York’s chief fiscal officer and the trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund. The most recent filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show that the pension fund holds roughly 27,000 shares of eXp World Holdings.  

“The New York Times report raised a huge red flag for us as an investor in that company,” DiNapoli told The New York Times, which first reported DiNapoli’s interest in the firm. “We found the allegations very concerning and as a shareholder, we are asking questions. We want a public reporting of their efforts to prevent harassment.”

In addition to asking for an independent investigation into the sexual assault allegations, DiNapoli also requested that eXp examines any policy gaps that may have allowed for the alleged assaults to occur.

According to an eXp spokesperson, an independent review of the issues is already under way.

“eXp takes its responsibility to foster a safe and inclusive environment very seriously and has zero tolerance for abuse, harassment, or misconduct of any kind. The conduct these women describe is abhorrent and unacceptable,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

“In each case, we took swift and appropriate action to provide support and protection, and an independent review of the facts and allegations is already underway. Given the sensitive nature of the allegations and active litigation, eXp will continue to prioritize confidentiality and will communicate directly with Mr. DiNapoli to address his concerns as a representative of our shareholders.”

Former eXp agent plaintiffs in three separate lawsuits have accused former eXp agents, team leaders and recruiters of a variety of sexual assault and harassment behaviors. The five plaintiffs in the first two lawsuits, which were filed in February and December of last year, accuse former eXp agents Michael Bjorkman and David Golden of drugging and sexually assaulting them at eXp recruiting events across the county.

According to the February 2023 civil complaint, Bjorkman and Golden would “entice women to travel in interstate commerce, recruit enthusiastic real estate agents with the promise of career advancement and coaching, and use their considerable influence in the real estate industry on these other real estate agents’ behalf, knowing that they would use means of force, fraud or coercion to cause these women to engage in a sex act.”

The second lawsuit, which makes similar allegations, was filed in December by Anya Roberts. In this complaint, Roberts claims she was given substances at eXp Realty events that caused her to black out. She believes she was sexually assaulted by both Golden and Bjorkman while unconscious.

The third suit, which was filed in January 2024, accuses Chris Nevada, a former team leader at eXp, of a variety of sexual harassment behaviors, including making sexual remarks in the workplace, offering to pay the plaintiff for sex, “unwanted touching” and attempts at kissing, and sexually oriented texts.

According to the complaint, when plaintiff Misty Carter, an employee of the defendant’s Nevada Real Estate Group, refused the team leader’s sexual advances, her “employment was terminated.” The complaint also alleged that eXp knew about Nevada’s behavior, although it did not elaborate on the details of what the firm knew. The brokerage denied having prior knowledge of the alleged harassment.

DiNapoli is known for taking a strong stance against allegations of sexual assault and harassment at other firms. Since 2022, he has filed similar letters with Tesla and Starbucks due to allegations of sexual harassment in their workplaces. In 2018, he led a lawsuit against Steve Wynn and the directors of Wynn Resorts over reports of abuse and sexual misconduct. The lawsuit settled a year later for $90 million.