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Elizabeth Warren demands Michael Bloomberg release women from confidentiality agreements

Senator Elizabeth Warren is again calling on Michael Bloomberg to release former female employees of his company from confidentiality agreements after several of them filed suit alleging hostile work environments.

‘If his company has an enviable record, then let people in his company or former people from his company speak about that enviable record,’ the senator from Massachusetts told ABC News on Saturday.

‘What is it that Michael Bloomberg has to hide?’

Both Warren and Bloomberg are running for the Democratic nomination for president.

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (left) on Sunday repeated her calls for Michael Bloomberg (right) to free female ex-employees of his company from confidentiality agreements after several filed lawsuits alleging a hostile work environment

Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, was asked on Wednesday about Warren’s previous calls to release the women from their obligations under the NDAs, saying: ‘Maybe the senator should worry about herself, and I’ll worry about myself.’

He has so far refused to allow former employees of his media company to violate the nondisclosure agreements.

Bloomberg cited his company’s ‘enviable record’ on gender parity. He denies that female employees were victims of sex discrimination.

‘You can’t just walk away from it,’ Bloomberg said.

‘They’re legal agreements, and for all I know the other side wouldn’t want to get out of it. I’m very proud of the ways our company behaves.

‘We can always do better. But we keep looking for better ways to make our employees get better benefits because that’s the way you attract good people, and I can parade out a whole bunch of any group that you want that will tell you it’s a great place to work.’

Warren has hit out at Bloomberg since the former New York City mayor made a late entry into the race for the Democratic nomination. 

She has assailed Bloomberg, whom Forbes says is the eighth-richest American, for trying to ‘buy’ the election after he poured in tens of millions of dollars of his own money in an advertising blitz. 

Last month, it was revealed that more than a dozen women who worked at Bloomberg Inc filed lawsuits alleging that Bloomberg fostered a culture of harassment and discrimination.

Bloomberg himself is alleged to have made a number of statements, including ‘I’d like to do that piece of meat’ and ‘I would DO you in a second.’

‘When women raise concerns like this, we have to pay attention,’ the Massachusetts Democrat said during a campaign event in Iowa last month, according to ABC News

‘We have to listen to them, and if Michael Bloomberg has made comments like this, then he has to answer for them.’

Warren went on to say that the women who signed nondisclosure agreements with Bloomberg’s company should be released from the contracts so they can speak publicly about the allegations.  

‘I think [nondisclosure agreements] are a way for people to hide bad things they’ve done. And I think that women should be able to speak,’ Warren said. 

Bloomberg is reportedly the eighth richest American. He amassed a net worth exceeding $57billion after he founded Bloomberg Inc, a financial media company

Bloomberg is reportedly the eighth richest American. He amassed a net worth exceeding $57billion after he founded Bloomberg Inc, a financial media company

Bloomberg is reportedly the eighth richest American. He amassed a net worth exceeding $57billion after he founded Bloomberg Inc, a financial media company

Bloomberg has denied the accusations that he made inappropriate remarks in the 1990s, creating a hostile work environment for women. 

After ABC News first reported about the lawsuits last month, Bloomberg released a statement touting his ‘enviable record’ on gender equality.  

‘There will always be somebody that’s not happy, but we are – we do very well in terms of attracting men and women to come to work in the company, and the retention rate with both of them is good as I think any real company,’ Bloomberg said. 

‘I’m very proud of what we do.’ 

Court records indicate that at least 17 women have taken legal action against Bloomberg Inc over the past three decades. 

Three of the cases specifically named the founder for his role in the company’s culture, which accusers described as ‘frat-like’ and uncomfortable for women. 

None of those cases have gone to trial as three remain active, four were either dismissed or withdrawn and five were settled out of court with attached non-disclosure agreements. 

Among the cases settled out of court was brought by Sekiko Sakai, who sued the company and Bloomberg in 1997, alleging that the founder made sexually explicit and derogatory statements to and about women in the workplace. 

Sakai’s lawyer in that case, Bonnie Josephs, joined Warren in calling for her former client and other women to be released from their confidentiality agreements. 

‘The atmosphere was toxic and harassing, with locker room atmosphere that was a sexually harassing atmosphere,’ Josephs told ABC News

‘If Mr. Bloomberg is running for president, I think the public needs to know what actually happened in this business.

‘It’s his company, it’s his business. He frames the atmosphere. He has to be responsible for it.’  

The outlet said it had spoken with several women who expressed interest in sharing their stories but feared retribution by the company.  

Bloomberg has denied the accusations that he made inappropriate remarks in the 1990s, creating a hostile work environment for women

Bloomberg has denied the accusations that he made inappropriate remarks in the 1990s, creating a hostile work environment for women

Bloomberg has denied the accusations that he made inappropriate remarks in the 1990s, creating a hostile work environment for women

The largest lawsuit detailed in the ABC News report was filed in 2007 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of more than 70 women who worked at the company. 

The suit alleged that mothers and pregnant women were subjected to unfair pay cuts and demotions and were excluded from management meetings. 

Some women were told: ‘You are not committed,’ and ‘You do not want to be here’ because of the extra demands being placed on their time as new parents, according to the suit.

‘It’s like stealing money from Mike Bloomberg’s wallet,’ a plaintiff quoted the editor as saying in reference to women at the company who went on maternity leave. 

‘It’s theft. They should be arrested.’ 

The US District Court of Manhattan eventually dismissed the suit because there was ‘not enough statistical evidence’ to support the claims.  

Another lawsuit filed in the 1990s alleged that Bloomberg told a pregnant employee to have an abortion.   

‘He told me to “kill it” in a serious monotone voice,’ the plaintiff alleged.

‘I asked “What? What did you just say?” He looked at me and repeated in a deliberate manner “kill it”.’ 

Bloomberg has repeatedly denied the specific ‘kill it’ allegation, including on the Today show in 2001. 

The discrimination lawsuit was later settled out of court and the complainant signed a confidentiality agreement. 

Newly-uncovered court records indicate that at least 17 women have taken legal action against Bloomberg Inc and its founder (pictured in 1994) over the past three decades

Newly-uncovered court records indicate that at least 17 women have taken legal action against Bloomberg Inc and its founder (pictured in 1994) over the past three decades

Newly-uncovered court records indicate that at least 17 women have taken legal action against Bloomberg Inc and its founder (pictured in 1994) over the past three decades

In another lawsuit, filed in 2016, Bloomberg was accused of breeding ‘a hostile work environment’ that led to discrimination, although he managed to have his name removed from the multi-million dollar case. 

In that suit, a women alleged she had been raped by a fellow employee while she was drunk and then became dependent on drugs that were hidden for her around the office. 

‘Mr. Bloomberg, Bloomberg’s founder, CEO, and President, and the former three-term Mayor of New York, encouraged this type of sexist and sexually charged behavior,’ states the complaint filed by a 26-year-old woman. 

‘Bloomberg’s notoriously sexist and hostile work environment has been well documented and has been the subject of myriad law suits prior to this lawsuit.’

Another former executive, Johnna Ayres, sued Bloomberg and Bloomberg Inc in 2018 claiming the company had ‘a hostile work environment and an atmosphere of retaliation’.

Ayres resigned from Bloomberg ‘after being targeted for termination because she complained about illegal financial, discriminatory and other employment practices by her male predecessor’, the suit states.   

The suit also alleges that the firm’s ‘proclivity to hire males, specifically males under the age of 40, resulted in a fraternity-fashioned corporate culture.’

‘Following the example and leadership of Mr. Bloomberg, Bloomberg’s dominant male culture allows sex to permeate the company’s work environment on a daily basis,’ it said.  

Other lawsuits outline a string of remarks allegedly made by Bloomberg himself in the 1990s.  

At a 1996 dinner party, Bloomberg allegedly told colleagues: ‘I’d love nothing more in life than to have Sharon Stone sit on my face.’

In a complaint filed in 1995, an employee claimed: ‘Bloomberg would gawk at women and say about their legs: “I like that.” He defended his attitude by saying it keeps him young.’ 

Former executive Johnna Ayres (pictured) sued Bloomberg and Bloomberg Inc in 2018 claiming the company had 'a hostile work environment and an atmosphere of retaliation'

Former executive Johnna Ayres (pictured) sued Bloomberg and Bloomberg Inc in 2018 claiming the company had 'a hostile work environment and an atmosphere of retaliation'

Former executive Johnna Ayres (pictured) sued Bloomberg and Bloomberg Inc in 2018 claiming the company had ‘a hostile work environment and an atmosphere of retaliation’

Some of Bloomberg’s alleged inappropriate remarks were compiled in a 32-page book colleagues gifted to the founder for his birthday in 1990s.  

One of the one-liners in the book, entitled ‘The Portable Bloomberg: The Wit and Wisdom of Michael Bloomberg’, read: ‘If women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they’d go to the library instead of to Bloomingdale’s.’ 

‘Make the customer think he’s getting laid when he’s getting f*****,’ another read. 

When the booklet reemerged during Bloomberg’s 2001 run for mayor, he claimed he did not remember saying any of the quotes attributed to him.  

In recent statement to The New York Times Bloomberg’s team said the businessman admitted ‘some of what he has said is disrespectful and wrong.’

‘He believes his words have not always aligned with his values and the way he has led his life,’ spokesman Stu Loeser told the Times last month.

Bloomberg served as CEO of his company from 1981 until 2001.

He stepped down after becoming mayor of New York City for three terms before returning to Bloomberg Inc in late 2014. 

He stepped down again from the firm after launching his presidential bid in November. 

Bloomberg Inc has denied all allegations of gender discrimination and noted that there has been a concerted effort to have more women placed into executive positions with and improved benefits including 26-week maternity leave. 

‘Mike Bloomberg has supported and empowered women throughout his career — from appointing women to the very top positions in his mayoral administration to supporting women candidates for higher office to an industry-leading 26-weeks of paid family leave at his company,’ Bloomberg campaign spokesperson Julie Wood wrote in a statement.   

Source: dailymail US

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