After being pressed repeatedly by Elizabeth Warren during this week’s presidential debate, Michael Bloomberg said that his company will release women from non-disclosure agreements they signed to settle complaints over sexually suggestive or offensive comments they say he made.
In a statement posted on his campaign’s website, Bloomberg said, “I’ve had the company go back over its record and they’ve identified 3 NDAs that we signed over the past 30-plus years with women to address complaints about comments they said I had made.”
He added, “If any of them want to be released from their NDA so that they can talk about those allegations, they should contact the company and they’ll be given a release. I’ve done a lot of reflecting on this issue over the past few days and I’ve decided that for as long as I’m running the company, we won’t offer confidentiality agreements to resolve claims of sexual harassment or misconduct going forward.”
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The Washington Post reported on Feb. 15 on complaints that women have made about Bloomberg, including a former saleswoman who alleged that he told her to “kill it” when she told him that she was pregnant. He denied making that comment under oath, but he reached a settlement with the woman. Bloomberg was asked about reports of his past comments at the debate, and he defended what he said as instances where women “didn’t like a joke I told.”
In campaign appearances, Warren continued to criticize Bloomberg for not releasing women from the NDAs.
In his statement, Bloomberg said that he has asked the human resources team at his company to “consult with experts, as I myself have done in recent days, and 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.”
He also outlined a series of steps he planned to take if he is elected president, including supporting the Be Heard Act, anti-sexual harassment legislation that was introduced in Congress last year. More than a dozen states have limited companies use of non-disclosure agreements, according to the National Women’s Law Center.
Bloomberg did not address non-disclosure agreements that have been signed by women to settle complaints against other employees at the company.
Warren told reporters that Bloomberg “needs to do a blanket release so that all women who have been muzzled by non-disclosure agreements can step up and tell their side of the story in terms of what Michael Bloomberg has done. If he wants to be the Democratic nominee and he wants to be president of the United States, he is going to have to be fully transparent on this issue.”
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