After coming under intense pressure from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg has agreed to release three women from nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) they had signed in connection with comments the billionaire businessman allegedly made to them. “If any of them want to be released from their NDAs, they should contact the company and they’ll be given a release,” Bloomberg tweeted on Friday afternoon. He added that his company and campaign would no longer offer confidentiality agreements to resolve “claims of sexual harassment or misconduct.”
Bloomberg LP has identified 3 NDAs signed over the past 30+ years with women to address complaints about comments they said I had made.
If any of them want to be released from their NDAs, they should contact the company and they'll be given a release. https://t.co/bO9JpvSx1T
— Mike Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) February 21, 2020
Bloomberg has a reputation for making disparaging comments about women and has faced allegations of making sexist and crude comments to women in the workplace. Details of several cases in which he was accused of creating a hostile work environment have remained private because of nondisclosure agreements, secrecy deals that are a common element of legal settlements as well as a tool for silencing women who make allegations of sexual harassment or gender discrimination.
Since at least December, Warren has been pressuring Bloomberg to release his former employees and colleagues from their NDAs. In a dramatic moment at Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential debate in Nevada, she tore into the former mayor, framing the issue as a matter of electability. “He has gotten some number of women—dozens, who knows—to sign nondisclosure agreements both for sexual harassment and for gender discrimination in the workplace,” Warren said. “So, Mr. Mayor, are you willing to release all of those women from those nondisclosure agreements so we can hear their side of the story?”
“We have a very few nondisclosure agreements—” Bloomberg began.
“How many is that?” Warren pressed.
“None of them accuse me of doing anything other than maybe they didn’t like a joke I told,” he continued, characterizing the legal documents as “agreements between two parties that wanted to keep it quiet. And that’s up to them.”
During a CNN town hall the next day, Warren didn’t let up—revealing that she had drafted a legal document she said Bloomberg could sign to release people from their confidentiality agreements with him. “I used to teach contract law, and I thought I would make this easy,” she said to laughter.
"I used to teach contract law. And I thought I would make this easy."
Elizabeth Warren opened her #cnntownhall by reading aloud a document to release people from Michael Bloomberg's nondisclosure agreements https://t.co/j8nidJ0nTL pic.twitter.com/eHMBjI4qyM
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 21, 2020
Bloomberg’s move on Friday is limited to three complaints about his comments, not about his actions or harassment allegations involving his company. It’s unclear who filed these three complaints, though one well-known NDA involves Sekiko Sakai Garrison, a former salesperson who alleges that Bloomberg, upon learning of her pregnancy, told her to “kill it.”
According to the Washington Post, Elisabeth DeMarse, a former chief marketing officer at Bloomberg’s company, also signed a nondisclosure agreement. In 1990, DeMarse assembled a 32-page pamphlet titled “The Wit and Wisdom of Michael Bloomberg” that contained obscene and sexist quotes, including, “If women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they’d go to the library instead of to Bloomingdale’s.” In her introduction to the booklet, Demarse wrote that they were “all actual quotes.” During his 2001 mayoral campaign, Bloomberg characterized the booklet as a “bunch of gags” and said he could not remember making the remarks. This year, his spokesman denied he made the statements.