Elizabeth Warren came out of the gates swinging during Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate ― and her first target was former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
The senator from Massachusetts once again attacked Bloomberg for making some of his female employees sign nondisclosure agreements. She also hammered at allegations that he once told a female employee to abort a pregnancy so she wouldn’t need to take maternity leave. More than 60 women have sued Bloomberg and his company, Bloomberg LP, for sex discrimination and sexual harassment over the years.
Warren said the alleged pregnancy discrimination comment, in which Bloomberg reportedly told the employee to “kill it,” was personal for her, she said, recounting that she was let go from her first teaching job once she became visibly pregnant.
“I didn’t have a union to protect me, and I didn’t have any federal law on my side. So I packed up my stuff and I went home,” Warren said. “At least I didn’t have a boss who said to me, ‘Kill it,’ the way Mayor Bloomberg is alleged to have said to one of his pregnant employees.”
A former Bloomberg LP salesperson, Sekiko Sakai Garrison, sued Bloomberg and his company in the late 1990s. According to Garrison’s lawsuit, Bloomberg made several similar comments to other pregnant women in the office, including once allegedly yelling at a woman who was looking for a babysitter, “It’s a fucking baby.… All you need is some Black who doesn’t have to speak English to rescue it from a burning building.”
When CBS moderator Gayle King asked what evidence Warren had of Bloomberg’s alleged comments to Garrison, Warren responded plainly: “Her own words.”
Bloomberg admitted that he was wrong to make any off-color jokes around employees, and he apologized for some past comments. His apology did not, however, include the alleged comments he made to Garrison. He denied that accusation, telling Warren on the debate stage: “I never said it. Period. End of story.”
Warren also continued to lambaste Bloomberg over his use of nondisclosure agreements after female employees filed sex discrimination and sexual harassment complaints.
“Let us have the women have an opportunity to speak,” she pressed. “The Bloomberg corporation and Mayor Bloomberg himself have been accused of discrimination. They are bound by nondisclosures so that they cannot speak. If he says there is nothing to hide here, then sign a blanket release and let those women speak out so that they can tell their stories the way I can tell my story” of pregnancy discrimination.
Bloomberg became visibly exasperated and responded that he complied when Warren pushed him last week to release some female employees from their NDAs. He also apparently thought it was a plus that he has never been accused of anything more than sexual harassment.
“We went back 40 years, and we could only find three cases where women said they were uncomfortable,” Bloomberg said. “Nobody accused me of something other than just making a comment or two.”
The former mayor said that “enough is never enough” with Warren, adding, “We cannot continue to relitigate this every time.”