Add famed Cleveland Indians leadoff hitter and stolen base king Kenny Lofton to the list of Cleveland sports figures being accused of sexual misconduct in civil court. The retired six-time All-Star is now being sued by a former employee, who says he was fired for allegedly bringing Lofton’s lurid workplace behavior to the attention of superiors, according to documents obtained by Deadspin. Lofton, who founded Centerblock Asset Management LLC, an investment firm and NFT workplace, is accused of retaliating against the plaintiff Brandyn Toney, who served as the creative director for Lofton’s company.
According to the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, a female employee working under Toney was tasked with monitoring Lofton’s Instagram and direct messages. The suit claims that while performing her job duties, the female employee was often exposed to sexually explicit photos of Lofton, who would allegedly send photos of his genitalia to women on Instagram. As early as February 2022, the complaint says the female employee contacted in-house counsel Mark Lui. The lawsuit further alleges that, on June 8, Lofton’s inappropriate actions were brought to Toney’s attention by the female employee.
Hours after Toney allegedly reported the accusations against Lofton to Lui, he was terminated. Toney, who claimed to idolize Lofton and relished the opportunity to work for him, agreed to receive an $85,000 salary upon his hiring, but says he instead spent seven months working grueling hours for minimum wage after he was hired in December 2021. Following his termination, the suit says Lofton’s company refused to pay him his agreed-upon salary. On June 15, Toney claims he emailed Lui, to inquire about the suspiciousness of his firing hours after reporting the allegations against Lofton for the first time. In response, Lui allegedly simply informed him he was no longer an employee of the company.
Toney is suing and seeking damages against Lofton’s companies, Centerblock Asset Management, and Proxime Corporation, for violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act, breach of contract, and harassment in the workplace. Deadspin reached out to Lofton and Centerblock for comment, but was unable to reach anyone willing to speak with us about the lawsuit.
“Lofton and his executive team thought they could fire our client for objecting to obvious sexual misconduct and even thought they could get away with not paying him for his work,” said Toney’s attorney Ronald L. Zambrano in an email. “That speaks to the arrogance and dysfunction at play every day at Centerblock and Proxime.”
If the allegations in the lawsuit are proven true, this may be an open and shut case. Given that the accusations against Lofton are fairly recent, it will be interesting to see what type of evidence Toney compiled and how Lofton defends himself. If true, it would be also an especially bizarre use of his authority to subject a female underling to his genitalia through photos sent to other women. Additionally, if Lofton was indeed brazen enough to exploit a young professional (who admired him so much he worked for pennies on the dollar) and then financially punished him for reporting accusations, it exemplifies a penchant for exploiting individuals that extends beyond the typically disgusting behavior by public figures that have been exposed in the #MeToo era.