Democratic presidential candidates (L-R) former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speak during the Democratic presidential primary debate
image: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Michael Bloomberg Says He’ll Release (Some) Women From Their NDAs After All

Thank you, Elizabeth Warren!
(Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Two days after Elizabeth Warren called him out during the Democratic debate in Nevada, Michael Bloomberg has announced that he will be releasing former employees from the nondisclosure agreements signed as part of harassment lawsuit settlements. Sort of.

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In a statement on the campaign’s website, Bloomberg writes that his company has looked over their records and “identified 3 NDAs that we signed over the past 30-plus years with women to address complaints about comments they said I had made.” If any of those women want to come forward to speak about their complaints, he says they can.

In theory, it’s great that Bloomberg is releasing these women from their NDAs. He is absolutely right when he writes 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. It is imperative that when problems occur, workplaces not only address the specific incidents, but the culture and practices that led to those incidents.”

In practice, however, that whole three-incidents-in-30-years bit is really sketchy. In the last 20 years, Bloomberg has had nearly 40 discrimination and harassment lawsuits filed against him by 64 employees.

During the debate, Bloomberg dismissed his history of lawsuits as being nothing more than a few women who may not have liked a joke that he told. Here are just a few examples of some of those “jokes”–and these are just the ones we’ve heard of. (Warning: intense misogyny, homophobic language, and racism ahead.)

–When one female employee told him she was pregnant, he told her to “kill it.”

–To another pregnant employee, he asked “what the hell did you do a thing like that for?”

–To an employee who was looking for childcare, he said “It’s a fucking baby! … All you need is some black who doesn’t have to speak English to rescue it from a burning building.”

–“If women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they’d go to the library instead of to Bloomingdale’s.”

–“I know for a fact that any self-respecting woman who walks past a construction site and doesn’t get a whistle will turn around and walk past again and again until she does get one.”

–He once called a competitor a “cokehead, womanizing, fag.”

So it’s nice that Bloomberg promises to “review and reform our policies where necessary with regard to equal pay and promotion, sexual harassment and discrimination, and other legal tools that prevent culture change.” It’s nice that he says if he were to become President, that he would “legislate these needed changes into federal law.” It’s good that he’s talking about family leave and child care and raising the minimum wage.

But in no way do I believe that there are only three incidents worth tearing up NDAs over. And the fact that he’s framing this announcement casts the whole move in a totally disingenuous light.

(via Mike Bloomberg on Twitter)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.