Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, now a 2020 Democrat candidate for president, has been accused and even sued by a number of women who worked for his eponymously named company over the years for allegedly making demeaning and sexually harassing comments, as was documented in a lengthy report by ABC News.
One of those lawsuits from the late 1990s was filed by an employee who alleged that, upon learning that she was pregnant, Bloomberg bluntly instructed her to “kill it.”
The suit was initiated by a sales manager named Sekiko Sakai, who was represented at that time by an attorney named Bonnie Josephs. The case was settled by Bloomberg LP for undisclosed terms and Sakai was compelled to sign a nondisclosure agreement, though she is now said to be willing to speak about what happened, provided she is released from the agreement.
Josephs told ABC that Sakai “thought [Bloomberg] would be pleased that she was pregnant,” but instead told her to “kill it.” The attorney said the Sakai “felt very distressed” and Bloomberg’s reaction had “really upset her emotionally.”
According to the lawsuit, Sakai alleged, “He told me to ‘kill it’ in a serious monotone voice.” She continued, “I asked ‘What? What did you just say?’ He looked at me and repeated in a deliberate manner ‘kill it.'”
Her lawsuit accused Bloomberg of discriminating against women who became pregnant, and for what its worth, the billionaire businessman has denied the allegation, even going so far as to take a lie detector test — the results of which Josephs disputed.
Sexist, “toxic” environment
ABC News noted that there were many other claims against Bloomberg — some dismissed by judges or settled out of court, others still pending — including a 2007 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigation into alleged discrimination against pregnant women and working mothers. A reported 67 employees of Bloomberg’s company were prepared to join that case, but it was dismissed by a court in 2011.
Other lawsuits have accused Bloomberg of regularly making derogatory and sexist remarks toward female employees and of engendering a “frat-like” and “toxic” work environment for women, and ABC noted that friends of the billionaire had even given him a gag gift in 1990 of a 32-page booklet documenting some of his more colorful remarks in that realm.
To be sure, Bloomberg has denied all of the specific allegations against him, and though he declined to be interviewed for the article, he did tell an ABC reporter on the campaign trail, “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’s campaign also issued a statement to ABC that similarly dismissed the accusations involving discrimination against women while at the same time seemingly admitting that he has said things in the past that could be construed as misogynistic in the current “#MeToo” era.
“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,” campaign spokeswoman Julie Wood said.
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.
Whether the resurrection of the many various complaints about Bloomber’s conduct will have an impact on his campaign remains to be seen. Currently, the RealClearPolitics poll average has him in a distant fifth place at 5.4%, while a CBS poll tracking the important “Super Tuesday” primary states — where Bloomberg has focused all of his efforts — similarly pegs him in fifth place with 4% support.