Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, is addressing growing concerns over reported allegations that he fostered a hostile work environment for women at his company.
Appearing on “The View” Wednesday, Bloomberg acknowledged he has made inappropriate jokes in the past that he regrets, but maintained that his company has been a “great place to work” for women.
“Did I ever tell a bawdy joke? Yeah, sure I did,” Bloomberg said. “Do I regret it? Yes, it’s embarrassing, but you know, that’s the way I grew up.”
ABC News has reported there are several women who filed lawsuits against Bloomberg or his company based on claims of a hostile and sexist work environment in the past 30 years. Some of them ended with financial settlements and nondisclosure agreements. ABC also reported on three ongoing lawsuits. Bloomberg said he will not release them from the agreements.
“We couldn’t do it if we wanted to,” Bloomberg said Wednesday, arguing that the nondisclosures were mutual legal agreements.
Sekiko Sakai is one woman who filed a lawsuit against Bloomberg in the 1990s, which was reported on at the time, who said Bloomberg pressured her to get an abortion to keep her job after she informed him she was pregnant.
“We don’t have anything to hide but we made legal agreements,” Michael Bloomberg tells the co-hosts when asked about his refusal to release women who’ve worked at his company from confidentiality agreements after some alleged hostile work environments. https://t.co/f8u2wbJuikpic.twitter.com/pdUegqf18M
“She thought he would be pleased,” Sakai’s former lawyer Bonnie Josephs told ABC. “And he said to her: ‘Kill it.'”
Bloomberg has denied the allegation.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a 2020 competitor, told reporters at a campaign stop in response to some of the alleged comments made by Bloomberg that “he has to answer for them.”
“When women raise concerns like this, we have to pay attention. We have to listen to them, and if Michael Bloomberg has made comments like this, then he has to answer for them,” Warren said.
She also said that the women should be released from their nondisclosure agreements so they could speak out about their experiences. “I think NDAs are a way for people to hide bad things they’ve done,” she said.
Bloomberg has previously responded to the various claims reported by saying that his company has an “enviable record” of treatment of his employees. “The View” co-host Abby Huntsman asked him to respond to Warren: If your company has an enviable record, what do you have to hide?
“We don’t have anything to hide, but we made legal agreements, which both sides wanted to keep certain things from coming out, they have a right to do that,” Bloomberg said.
America loves her, and she loves America. That’s why I’m happy and humbled to have Judge Judy Sheindlin’s support. Thank you, Judy. #WomenforMikepic.twitter.com/OfRpASZ66E
“I think you talk to most women in the company, they would say equal pay, equal promotion, equal opportunity, it’s a great place to work,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg’s comments come ahead of his campaign rolling out a #WomenforMike movement. The candidate posted the hashtag multiple times on his Twitter account Tuesday with examples of women supporters like Judge Judy Sheindlin.
Just before his official entrance into the race, Bloomberg apologized for the “stop-and-frisk” policy he oversaw as mayor that disproportionately targeted communities of color in New York City.
Bloomberg has funneled more than $100 million into campaign advertising since announcing his bid, and currently polls nationally at 6.6%, according to data compiled by RealClearPolitics, putting him in fifth place.
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