Mike Bloomberg said Friday he’d free three women from confidentiality agreements that bar them from speaking publicly about sexual harassment or discrimination suits filed against him over the last three decades.
The billionaire former mayor of New York also said his company, Bloomberg LP, will no longer use such agreements “to resolve claims of sexual harassment or misconduct going forward.”
His remarks come after days of intense scrutiny over the treatment of women at the company he’s led for three decades, and amid pressure from Democratic presidential rival Elizabeth Warren to allow the women to share their claims publicly. Warren hammered Bloomberg over the issue in the recent debate, his first time facing his rivals. The announcement Friday highlights his efforts to remove a vulnerability ahead of the next debate, on Tuesday in South Carolina, and refocus his campaign ahead of March 3, known as Super Tuesday, when he will be on the ballot for the first time.
Bloomberg didn’t automatically revoke the agreements, but told the women to contact the company if they would like to be released. The three agreements he’s willing to open up relate specifically to comments he’s alleged to have made. His company reportedly faced nearly 40 lawsuits involving 65 plaintiffs between 1996 and 2016, though it’s unclear how many relate to sexual harassment or discrimination.
Bloomberg said in a statement he’d done “a lot of reflecting on this issue over the past few days.”
“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 continued.