Bloomberg’s move to lift the NDAs comes ahead of next week’s debate in South Carolina, and as his advisers and allies acknowledge that the issue would follow him as long as he refused to retreat from his stance and offer the releases. On Friday, he invited the three women to contact Bloomberg LP, “and they’ll be given release,” Bloomberg said in a statement.
“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,” he added. “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.”
It’s unclear who the employees of Bloomberg LP are or what remarks by Bloomberg they complained to his company about. His statement Friday covers remarks he personally made and not the actions of other Bloomberg LP employees that could have resulted in more NDAs.
Under pressure from Warren this week, Bloomberg said he has no tolerance for the behavior but cast the agreements as consensual. He also reiterated his long-running defense that the language he used were jokes.
“None of (the women) accused me of doing anything, other than, maybe, they didn’t like a joke I told,” Bloomberg said in Nevada. Last month, on “The View,” he went further in his explanation, “Did I ever tell a bawdy joke? Yeah, sure, I did. And do I regret it? Yes, it’s embarrassing, but, you know, that’s the way I grew up.”
Bloomberg’s company has faced several gender discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits leading to settlements and dismissals. Donna Clancy, an attorney for three former employees who have sued both Bloomberg and his company, told ABC News that if the women were to break their NDAs, the “terms and conditions say that they would suffer the consequences.”
In the debate, Warren urged Bloomberg to act so the public could know “exactly what’s lurking out there.” “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.
“We are not going to beat Donald Trump with a man who has who knows how many nondisclosure agreements and the drip, drip, drip of stories of women saying they have been harassed and discriminated against. That’s not what we do as Democrats,” Warren added.
On Friday, Bloomberg said he also asked his human resources team to consult with experts, as he has done in recent days, to review and reform their policies with regard to equal pay and promotion, sexual harassment and discrimination and other legal tools that prevent culture change.
“I want my company to be a model for women seeking opportunity and support in their careers,” he said. “When we support women in the workplace, we advance not just their own feelings of value, but we help them and their families across America live better lives through higher wages. Our efforts ripple throughout the entire economy.”
Bloomberg added that if elected he would work to pass new federal laws and support legislative proposals that increase women’s equity in the workplace, including guaranteeing 12 weeks of paid family leave, signing the Paycheck Fairness Act and increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour. He also said he would ensure that women have access to affordable child care, as well as quality health care and reproductive services.
“I will continue to encourage business leaders to support women beyond what is mandated by Congress,” he said.