New details in eXp sexual assault claims revealed by New York Times
Five women told the Times that it took a lawsuit to get action on predatory behavior. A second lawsuit has been filed, and eXp said that it let “bad actors” go.
- A new lawsuit, filed on Dec. 14 by an eXp agent, alleges that “detestable actions” were “rampant” within eXp and at company events.
- Four women who are suing eXp said they were drugged and sexually assaulted at agent recruiting events.
- The company said it has “zero tolerance for abuse, harassment, or exploitation of any kind.”
The New York Times on Friday published its second major investigation into the real estate industry in six months, this time detailing allegations of predatory behavior by eXp high performers and accusing executives of looking the other way.
Based on statements and a recounting of events by 30 "current and former eXp agents," the Times describes a culture of "work hard, play harder" that at times crossed over into misconduct and sexual assault.
The New York Times reports that at least five women reported waking up the morning after work events "unsure how they had arrived in their hotel beds," and four said they were sexually assaulted. Notably, the story highlights alcohol-fueled recruiting events and eXp's annual EXPCON conferences.
At the center of the allegations are former agents Michael Bjorkman and David Golden, as well as top recruiter Brent Gove and company CEO Glenn Sanford, who were all named as defendants in a lawsuit that was filed and amended earlier in the year. According to the New York Times, executives had ignored the allegations until the suit forced them to take action.
A second lawsuit against eXp filed on Dec. 14 makes similar accusations and adds top recruiter and "influencer" Michael Sherrard to the defendant list. In the suit, a Florida-based eXp agent said she was drugged and sexually assaulted during an eXp recruiting event in Mexico and that "detestable actions" were "rampant" within eXp and at events put on by the company and its agents.
An eXp spokesperson said the company "has zero tolerance for abuse, harassment, or misconduct of any kind — including by the independent real estate agents who use our services," and takes their responsibility to "foster a safe and inclusive environment very seriously."
eXp also told Real Estate News that the company sees no merit in the latest suit filed this week and has "asked the court to dismiss these claims."
"We are now learning of new allegations of alleged assaults that were brought forth by another female agent and have begun an investigation into the claims," the spokesperson said over email. "However, the claims against eXp and its leadership have no basis in fact or law, and to which eXp vehemently denies."
The company has updated a blog post on its "no tolerance" policy against harassment and abuse.
During the company's November earnings call, Sanford said "bad actors" identified in the lawsuit — Michael Bjorkman and David Golden — had been let go. In its statement to the Times, eXp pointed out that the accused were "independent real estate agents who were never eXp employees."
Criminal charges were filed against Bjorkman by Las Vegas police, but were dismissed in May 2021 because prosecutors concluded they couldn't prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, according to reporting done by the Las Vegas Journal-Review and other media outlets.
The New York Times had previously covered sexual misconduct in the industry through an investigation of NAR published in August. Two days later, then-NAR president Kenny Parcell stepped down.
The New York Times investigation also takes a closer look into the eXp downline model, which rewards the agents and teams who recruit the most people to the brokerage. The Times described the business model as "structured as a multilevel marketing operation," and highlights criticisms where some — such as the plaintiffs in the first lawsuit — describe the model as "a pyramid scheme."
"The ones that grow their teams the fastest are the center of attention for the company and the cheerleaders for the company. And unfortunately, it's like they can do no wrong," Tricia Turner, a former eXp agent in Houston, told the New York Times. "Everyone is just a recruiter. They're not there to sell homes and represent the client."