REPORT: At Least 17 Women Have Taken Legal Action Against Bloomberg’s Company

Per Heavy, in December 2019, ABC News reported that Bloomberg has “on repeated occasions faced and fought allegations that he directed crude and sexist comments to women in his office.”

According to ABC, Bloomberg has been accused of using “lewd comments” that created a “frat-like” culture at his company, with quotes alleged in lawsuits such as, “I’d like to do that piece of meat,” and “I would DO you in a second.”

ABC was able to count at least 17 women in 30 years who took legal action against Bloomberg’s company, with three cases naming him individually. ABC reported that five were settled out of court, three are active, and no cases made it to trial.

“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,” Julie Wood, a Bloomberg campaign spokesperson, told ABC News. “At the same time, Mike has come to see that 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.”

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From ABC (Dec 15, 2019)

Mike Bloomberg has on repeated occasions faced and fought allegations that he directed crude and sexist comments to women in his office, including a claim in the 1990s that he told an employee who had just announced she was pregnant to “kill it.”

“He told me to ‘kill it’ in a serious monotone voice,” the woman alleged in a lawsuit. “I asked ‘What? What did you just say?’ He looked at me and repeated in a deliberate manner ‘kill it.'”

Bloomberg has repeatedly denied that specific allegation — which arose in a discrimination lawsuit that was settled out of court. But over the years a number of women have alleged in legal filings that Bloomberg’s use of lewd comments around co-workers fostered a frat-like culture at the company he founded and still owns. Quotes attributed to him in court filings include, “I’d like to do that piece of meat,” and “I would DO you in a second.”

Court records reviewed by ABC News indicate that at least 17 women have taken legal action against the company over the past three decades, with three of the cases specifically naming Bloomberg for his role in the company’s culture. None of the cases made it to trial – four were either dismissed or withdrawn, while five were settled out of court. Three cases remain active.

The comments attributed to Bloomberg in court records are echoed in a gift book he received from colleagues in 1990: a compilation of his alleged quotes. The booklet contained alleged comments such as, “Make the customer think he’s getting laid when he’s getting [expletive],” and, “If women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they’d go to the library instead of to Bloomingdales.” The booklet received media attention a decade later when he ran for mayor of New York.

“The atmosphere was toxic and harassing,” said Bonnie Josephs, a New York attorney who represented the woman who alleged that Bloomberg suggested she terminate her pregnancy.

While many of the cases brought against Bloomberg LP over the years have taken aim at other managers and executives, several of the early complaints alleged Bloomberg’s attitude and statements about women fostered a hostile work environment himself. Some were dismissed, while others were settled with no admission of wrongdoing.

In recent days, Bloomberg and his staff have begun to acknowledge that, in the midst of the first presidential campaign of the #MeToo era, he will have to address these allegations as he seeks the Democratic nomination for president.

“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,” Julie Wood, a Bloomberg campaign spokesperson, told ABC News. “At the same time, Mike has come to see that 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.”

As a late entry in an already heated race for the Democratic party nomination, Bloomberg has little margin for error. The allegations that he had a reputation for making crude comments about women and condoned a “locker room” business environment — earned or not — comes on the heels of a #MeToo movement that sent the careers of countless business, entertainment and political figures into a tailspin.

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

The challenge confronting Bloomberg will be especially acute as he tries to court Democratic primary voters, said Michele Swers, a professor of American government at Georgetown University.

“The Democratic primary is more heavily female. And women, Democratic women in particular, are more sensitive to those kinds of situations,” Swers said.

He declined through a spokesman to be interviewed by ABC News for this report. But on Sunday, at a campaign event in North Carolina, Bloomberg told ABC News his company has an “enviable record” of 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. “So, I’m very proud of what we do.”

A spokesperson for Bloomberg LP denied allegations of gender discrimination, citing the company’s efforts to promote women into executive positions and improve benefits for women, especially in recent years, such as a new a policy instituted earlier this year to allow a 26-week maternity leave.

The Bloomberg campaign added that as mayor, Bloomberg surrounded himself with women as senior advisers and implemented policy initiatives meant to advance gender equity, including nursing assistance for low-income mothers.

Decades of allegations

Bloomberg officials told ABC News that the culture at the company today is nothing like a frat house. When he returned from his tenure as mayor, a spokesman said, Bloomberg “commissioned a company-wide effort to promote gender equality across the business.” On its website, Bloomberg is quoted saying the company is “dedicated to empowering the women working at Bloomberg across every level and every function.”

A company spokesman noted a passage in Bloomberg’s autobiography, in which he described the decision to open an office in Japan in the 1990s, in which he says he was advised by other business leaders to not send women.

“Bloomberg being Bloomberg, we opened without a local partner (and had no governmental problems) and sent two women to run the place (who were accepted and able to hire men to work under them). So much for convention,” he wrote.

Bloomberg served three terms as mayor of New York City, and occasionally faced sparks of similar criticism. In 2013, then-City Council Speaker Christine Quinn accused Bloomberg of having a “potty mouth” after a report from an event where he allegedly saw a woman in a tight dress and blurted out to a friend, “Look at the ass on her.”

Bloomberg later denied making the comment.

More criticism followed when Quinn — who ran to succeed him as mayor — was quoted in a magazine article saying the mayor offered unsolicited commentary on her choice of flats over high heels or waiting too long to dye her hair.

While the allegations of a frat like and demeaning atmosphere at his company largely came out of lawsuits describing conduct from the 1990’s, critics say problems have continued.

“We have investigated the company for the last four years, and the culture is such that women are not valued,” said Donna Clancy, an attorney for three former employees who have sued both Bloomberg and his firm. “In fact, they’re objectified, based upon the complaints that I’ve filed on behalf of three plaintiffs and the history that’s listed in those complaints.”

The dozen legal complaints over the years include multiple specific allegations of crude statements by Bloomberg himself in the 1990s. In one case, he is alleged to have told a female employee, regarding her boyfriend, to, “Keep him happy with a good [oral sex].”

At a 1996 dinner party, he is alleged to have announced to a table of colleagues, “I’d love nothing more in life than to have Sharon Stone sit on my face.”

“Bloomberg would gawk at women and say about their legs, ‘I like that,'” according to an unnamed former Bloomberg employee quoted in court records from 1995. “He defended his attitude by saying it keeps him young.”

“If you should notice his penetrating stare upon yourself, Bloomberg would just smirk,” another former employee said, according to court records.

The allegations are echoed in a booklet, presented to Bloomberg as a gag gift at a 1990 office party, memorialized over 32 pages a compilation of crude, and at times sexist, remarks he is alleged to have made openly during his early years at the helm of the company. ABC News has obtained one of the few original copies of the book. Bloomberg has said in the past that he did not recall making the comments described in the booklet.

“The atmosphere [at Bloomberg LP] was toxic and harassing,” Josephs told ABC News, reflecting back on the dozen or so witness interviews she conducted in the mid-1990s with former Bloomberg employees.

Bloomberg served as CEO of the company from 1981 until 2001, when he ran for mayor of New York City. He won that race and served as mayor for three terms and returned to Bloomberg LP in late 2014. He stepped down again when he launched his presidential bid in November.

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