Bloomberg vows to free three women from non-disclosure agreements
Michael Bloomberg has promised to free three women from agreements that prevent them from speaking publicly about law suits filed against him.
His words come after scrutiny of the treatment of female employees at the financial news company he founded in 1981.
Mr Bloomberg said the women should contact his company if they wished to be released from the agreements, which relate to comments he is accused of having made.
He said that he had done “a lot of reflecting on this issue over the past few days”.
Mr Bloomberg also vowed that Bloomberg LP will no longer use non-disclosure agreements “to resolve claims of sexual harassment or misconduct going forward”.
He said in a statement: “I recognise that NDAs, particularly when they are used in the context of sexual harassment and sexual assault, promote a culture of silence in the workplace and contribute to a culture of women not feeling safe or supported.”
He also promised to be “a leader women can trust”.
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The Democratic presidential hopeful had been under pressure from rival Elizabeth Warren during last week’s debate to let the three women talk about their claims.
He said then that the agreements were “consensual” and the allegations were made because women “didn’t like a joke I told”.
One of the three cases relates to Sekiko Sekai Garrison, 55, who filed a complaint in 1995 after Mr Bloomberg allegedly told her to “kill it” when she told him she was pregnant. He was also alleged to have called her “number 16” in reference to the number of pregnant employees at the company.
Mr Bloomberg denies these claims.
The other two cases have not been made public.
The next debate is on Tuesday in South Carolina and Mr Bloomberg, one of America’s richest men and a late entrant in the race, is believed to be trying to remove this vulnerability with Super Tuesday – when he will be on the ballot for the first time – just over a week away.
Ms Warren said the move was “just not good enough”, saying that he should have signed a blanket release for the women.
A spokeswoman for Joe Biden’s campaign said Mr Bloomberg’s concession “tells the public nothing” by only addressing three agreements.
Bloomberg LP reportedly faced nearly 40 lawsuits from 65 plaintiffs between 1996 and 2016. It is not known how many relate to sexual harassment or discrimination.
Last week Mr Bloomberg said he would sell his company if elected president.