Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg says three women who signed nondisclosure agreements in relation to complaints they made about his comments in the last 30 years can come forward and speak about their experiences.
Bloomberg said that if any of the women would like to be released from their NDA and talk about their allegations, they can contact his company, Bloomberg LP, and will no longer be liable for speaking publicly. This decision will not break the NDAs for other individuals who raised complaints about Bloomberg’s company.
“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,” Bloomberg said in a statement.
At Wednesday’s presidential debate in Las Vegas, Bloomberg struggled to explain why he wouldn’t allow women who signed nondisclosure agreements about sexual harassment and discrimination at his company to speak publicly.
There are 64 women who have brought forward nearly 40 sex discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits against Bloomberg and his company. Women at Bloomberg LP have reportedly been bound by nondisclosure agreements.
Both Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former Vice President Joe Biden asked the former New York City mayor directly to publicly break all those NDAs Wednesday night.
“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 on the debate stage. “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?”
Bloomberg refused to do so Wednesday, chalking up the harassment complaints against him to “maybe they didn’t like a joke I told” and repeating that the NDAs were “consensual.” Now, he appears to have had a change of heart about the three women he says brought complaints forward specifically about him.
Here is Bloomberg’s statement in full:
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. 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.
I recognize 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. And then leaders must act.
Bloomberg’s opponents said his announcement Friday was not enough. Warren said he should issue a blanket waiver so that anyone who wants to come forward ― not just these three women ― can.
Biden said the same thing.
“Today’s release essentially tells the public nothing — we don’t know how many women signed these NDAs, what percentage of NDAs this represents, or what categories of signed NDAs exist that are excluded,” said Biden campaign manager Kate Bedingfield. “It is well past time for Mayor Bloomberg to dispense with tricks and come clean with everyone he’s asking to vote for him about this very important part of his record.”