[Marxism] Mike Bloomberg for years has battled women’s allegations of profane, sexist comments
lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Feb 15 09:39:56 MST 2020
(My own encounter with Bloomberg:
The Washington Post, Feb. 15, 2020
Mike Bloomberg for years has battled women’s allegations of profane,
By Michael Kranish
NEW YORK — As Mike Bloomberg celebrated his 48th birthday in 1990, a top
aide at the company he founded presented him with a booklet of profane,
sexist quotes she attributed to him.
A good salesperson is like a man who tries to pick up women at a bar by
saying, “Do you want to f---? He gets turned down a lot — but he gets
f----- a lot, too!” Bloomberg was quoted in the booklet as saying.
Bloomberg also allegedly said that his company’s financial information
computers “will do everything, including give you [oral sex]. I guess
that puts a lot of you girls out of business.”
At the time, some Bloomberg staffers said, they laughed off the comments
in the 32-page booklet, “The Wit and Wisdom of Michael Bloomberg,” as a
macho side of one of the nerdiest men on Wall Street.
But others viewed them more darkly, seeing them as blunt examples of
what they considered to be a hostile environment, artifacts of a
workplace employees said was saturated with degrading comments.
Several lawsuits have been filed over the years alleging that women were
discriminated against at Bloomberg’s business-information company,
including a case brought by a federal agency and one filed by a former
employee, who blamed Bloomberg for creating a culture of sexual
harassment and degradation.
The most high-profile case was from a former saleswoman. She sued
Bloomberg personally as well as his company, alleging workplace
discrimination. She alleged Bloomberg told her to “kill it” when he
learned she was pregnant. Bloomberg has denied her allegation under
oath, and he reached a confidential settlement with the saleswoman.
The Washington Post interviewed a former Bloomberg employee, David
Zielenziger, who said he witnessed the conversation with the saleswoman.
Zielenziger, who said he had not previously spoken publicly about the
matter, said Bloomberg’s behavior toward the woman was “outrageous. I
understood why she took offense.”
89. On April 11, 1995 at approximately 11:20 a.m., Bloomberg was having
a photograph taken with two female Company salespeople and a group of
N.Y.U. Business School students, in the company snack area. When
Bloomberg noticed Garrison standing nearby, he asked, “Why didn’t they
ask you to be in the picture? I guess they saw your face.” Continuing
his penchant for ridiculing recently married women in his employ,
Bloomberg asked plaintiff, “How’s married life? You married?” Plaintiff
responded that her marriage was great and was going to get better in a
few months: that she was pregnant, and the baby was due the following
September. He responded to her “Kill it!” Plaintiff asked Bloomberg to
repeat himself, and again he said, “Kill it!” and muttered, “Great!
Number 16!” suggesting to plaintiff his unhappiness that sixteen women
in the Company had maternity-related status. Then he walked away.
While allegations about Bloomberg’s comments and treatment of women have
received notice over the years, a review by The Post of thousands of
pages of court documents, depositions obtained under the Freedom of
Information Act and interviews with witnesses underscores how Bloomberg
and his company, Bloomberg LP, have fought the claims.
A number of the cases have either been settled, dismissed in Bloomberg’s
favor or closed because of a failure of the plaintiff to meet filing
deadlines. The cases do not involve accusations of inappropriate sexual
conduct; the allegations have centered around what Bloomberg has said
and about the workplace culture he fostered.
Now, as Bloomberg is increasingly viewed as a viable Democratic
candidate for president and the #MeToo era has raised the profile of
workplace harassment, he is finding that his efforts to prevent
disclosure are clashing against demands that he release former employees
and complainants from their nondisclosure agreements.
The allegations that he tolerated a hostile office culture could
undercut his ability to criticize President Trump’s alleged sexual
misconduct and efforts to keep such claims private.
Other Democratic candidates have dealt with related issues. Sen. Bernie
Sanders last year apologized to female staff members of his 2016
campaign who said they were sexually harassed by co-workers, saying it
was “unacceptable behavior.” Former vice president Joe Biden, facing
allegations that he had touched or kissed women without consent, said
last year that his “expressions of affection” were misconstrued but that
he would “pay attention” to the concerns.
One of Bloomberg’s rivals for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Elizabeth
Warren of Massachusetts, said in December at an Iowa campaign stop that
nondisclosure agreements are “a way for people to hide bad things
they’ve done.” She called on Bloomberg to release women from such
Asked while campaigning to respond, Bloomberg said: “Maybe the senator
should worry about herself and I’ll focus on myself.” He acknowledged
enforcing nondisclosure agreements by his former employees and said,
“You can’t just walk away from it. They’re legal agreements, and for all
I know the other side wouldn’t want to get out of it.”
Bloomberg declined an interview request. A spokesman said Bloomberg
would not release anyone from a confidentiality agreement, and that he
would not release his depositions in the cases.
Bloomberg has given varying responses over the years when asked about
some of the quotes in the “Wit and Wisdom” booklet. His spokesman said
in 2001 that “some of the things he might have said” and Bloomberg
apologized to “anyone that was offended by” the comments. Bloomberg at
one point referred to them as “a bunch of Borscht Belt jokes.”
After The Post informed the Bloomberg campaign that it planned to put
online a copy of the full booklet, spokesman Stu Loeser said, “Mike
simply did not say the things somebody wrote in this gag gift, which has
been circulating for 30 years and has been quoted in every previous
election Mike has been in.”
At the same time, Loeser added, “Mike openly admits that his words have
not always aligned with his values and the way he has led his life and
some of what he has said is disrespectful and wrong.” He did not provide
Loeser issued a more direct denial of the allegations in the lawsuit
brought by the former saleswoman who said Bloomberg told her to “kill
it.” He said Bloomberg “did not make any of the statements alleged in”
Patricia E. Harris, chairwoman of Bloomberg’s campaign, said in a
statement that Bloomberg “has always hired and promoted women into
senior leadership roles in industries long dominated by men.”
“In any large organization, there are going to be complaints — but Mike
has never tolerated any kind of discrimination or harassment, and he’s
created cultures that are all about equality and inclusion. Anyone who
works hard and performs well is going to be rewarded, regardless of
gender, race, sexual orientation or anything else. ”
Boasting about women
Bloomberg in 1997. Allegations of his conduct as company CEO around that
time raise questions about his vulnerability as a presidential candidate
today. (Marion Curtis/Life Picture Collection via Getty Images)
Bloomberg has long boasted about his relationships with women, while
stressing that he never dated someone who worked for him. He wrote in
his 1997 autobiography that before he was married in 1976, he “traveled
with a big expense account, I had a girlfriend in every city” and “set
new records in ‘burning the candle at both ends.’ ”
In 1993 Bloomberg divorced his wife, Susan, with whom he raised two
daughters. He described his bachelor life this way in a 1996 interview
with the Guardian, a British newspaper: “I like theater, dining and
chasing women. Let me put it this way: I am a single, straight
billionaire in Manhattan. What do you think? It’s a wet dream.”
In the lawsuits against Bloomberg and his company, the former employees
allege that Bloomberg’s views about work and women permeated corporate life.
In the most high-profile example, a top saleswoman, Sekiko Sakai
Garrison, alleged that Bloomberg told female salespeople about a male
colleague getting married: “All of you girls line up to give him [oral
sex] as a wedding present.” And, the lawsuit said, when Bloomberg saw
certain women, he said, “I’d f--- that in a second.”
18. Upon information and belief, in 1989, when a male Company
salesperson was getting married, Bloomberg said to the female
salespeople, “All of you girls line up to give him [oral sex] as a
wedding present.” He repeated like words on several occasions in each of
the years plaintiff was employed at the Company.
Garrison went to work in 1989 for Bloomberg, becoming a leader in
selling the namesake business information terminals from which the
company derived much of its profit. Garrison worked in the company’s New
York office and made many of her sales to clients in Japan. She said in
her lawsuit that she regularly talked with Bloomberg.
A year after Garrison’s arrival, a senior official at the company
compiled Bloomberg’s sayings in the “Wit and Wisdom” booklet. Some of
the quotes were first reported by New York magazine in 2001 and have
since appeared elsewhere.
The Post obtained a copy of the booklet. Bloomberg is quoted as desiring
oral sex from a well-known actress and is quoted as saying, “If women
wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they’d go to the library
instead of to Bloomingdale’s.”
The employee who assembled the booklet, former chief marketing officer
Elisabeth DeMarse, wrote in the introduction, “Yes, these are all actual
quotes. No, nothing has been embellished or exaggerated. And yes, some
things were too outrageous to include.”
DeMarse was quoted in 2001 in New York magazine as saying Bloomberg’s
comments were “a bonding thing when everyone laughs. You stop thinking
that it might be inappropriate.” She told the magazine she sat next to
Bloomberg for seven years. DeMarse went on to be chief executive officer
of the online news sites TheStreet and Newser. DeMarse, who worked at
Bloomberg LP from 1988 to 1998, signed a nondisclosure agreement and
declined to comment.
Garrison said in her suit that shortly after her arrival, she began to
observe Bloomberg making inappropriate comments to her and other women
at the company.
“The Company, through its male managers and employees from Chief
Executive Officer Bloomberg on down, engaged in a pattern and practice
of sexual harassment, sexual degradation of women, and discrimination”
against Garrison because of her nationality, the lawsuit alleged. She is
of Japanese descent.
Bloomberg’s lawyer denied the claims in a court filing, adding that
Garrison failed “to take advantage of any complaint or grievance
procedure or opportunities provided by Bloomberg.”
In one incident, Garrison said in the suit, Bloomberg “was unhappy with
the outcome of a business meeting. He said to a newly-hired female
Company sales person, ‘If [clients] told you to lay down and strip naked
so they could f--- you, would you do that too?’” Garrison said Bloomberg
made similar remarks for all six years of her employment.
23. Upon information and belief, in October 1989, Bloomberg was unhappy
with the outcome of a business meeting. He said to a newly-hired female
Company sales person, “If [the clients] told you to lay down and strip
naked so they could f--- you, would you do that too?” He repeated
similar words or substance at frequent intervals throughout the period
of plaintiff’s employment.
Bloomberg also allegedly said about Garrison that he would have sex with
her “in a minute,” but he regretted that she didn’t have “legs and an
a-- ” like a certain actress.
Garrison alleged that Bloomberg berated female employees who got
pregnant. “What the hell did you do a thing like that for?” Bloomberg
allegedly told one pregnant employee. On another occasion, the lawsuit
said, Bloomberg berated a female employee who had trouble finding a
nanny. “It’s a f------ baby! . . . All you need is some black who
doesn’t have to speak English to rescue it from a burning building.”
44. Upon information and belief, in or about July 1993, Bloomberg heard
that a female Company sales person, who had just had a baby, was having
difficulty finding a nanny. He yelled loudly at her, in the presence of
a large group of employees,“It’s a f------ baby! All it does is eat and
s---! It doesn’t know the difference between you and anyone else! All
you need is some black who doesn’t even have to speak English to rescue
it from a burning building!” The sales person cried at hearing her
employer say such things to her, in so public a manner.
Read the full document. Note: The text in the document contains
When Bloomberg learned on April 11, 1995, that Garrison was pregnant,
according to her suit, he allegedly said to her, “Kill it!” Garrison
asked Bloomberg to repeat what he said, and she said he responded, “Kill
it! Great! Number 16!,” which she took as a reference to the number of
pregnant women and new mothers at the company.
Garrison said in the suit that she interpreted Bloomberg’s remark as an
instruction to “have an abortion to keep her job.”
A TV screen shows a broadcast of Bloomberg financial news at the
company’s New York newsroom in 1998. Mike Bloomberg would go on to be a
three-term mayor of the city and now has entered the Democratic race for
president. (Doug Kanter/Associated Press)
‘Forget it ever happened’
For years, the disputed “kill it” comment has been a central focus of
questions about how Bloomberg treated women. David Zielenziger, a former
Bloomberg technology writer, told The Post he was there and heard the
“I remember she had been telling some of her girlfriends that she was
pregnant,” Zielenziger said. “And Mike came out and I remember he said,
‘Are you going to kill it?’ And that stopped everything. And I couldn’t
Zielenziger said he never talked to Garrison about what he heard and did
not participate in her lawsuit. He said Bloomberg’s question was crude,
inappropriate — and typical. “He talked kind of crudely about women all
the time,” Zielenziger said.
“Are you going to kill it?”
Listen to former Bloomberg employee David Zielenziger talk for the first
time publicly, in a Post interview, about what he heard Michael
Bloomberg say to Sekiko Sakai Garrison
Ken Cooper, a software engineer who now is the company’s global head of
human resources, said he was in a nearby conference room when the
conversation took place. He said he didn’t hear what Bloomberg said, but
in an interview arranged by Bloomberg’s press office, he recounted that
Garrison approached him moments after the encounter.
“I told Mike I was pregnant,” Garrison said, according to Cooper. “I
think he may have said, ‘Kill it.’ ”
Cooper said Garrison “wanted to know if I heard what he said. And if I
did hear, did I understand? I said,‘Look, I’m sorry, I was too far
away.’ ” Cooper said in the interview that he concluded Garrison “wasn’t
sure what Mike said.”
Bloomberg soon learned that Garrison was upset with him.
Shortly after the incident, Bloomberg called Garrison’s home phone and
left a lengthy voice mail, according to her handwritten notes of the
call obtained by The Post.
“When you have time, give me a buzz or stop by,” the CEO said. “I didn’t
even know you were pregnant until the other day.” Bloomberg said that
another employee had told him “you were upset.” He said that “whatever
you heard wasn’t what I said and whatever I said had nothing to do with
pregnancies.” Bloomberg concluded the voice mail by saying he “couldn’t
be happier you are having a child” and “I apologize if there was
something you heard but I didn’t say it, didn’t mean it, didn’t say it.”
A Bloomberg spokesman did not dispute the content of the call notes.
Voicemail message left by Bloomberg (transcribed from Garrison’s
When you have time, give me a buzz or stop by...I don’t understand...I
didn’t even know you were pregnant until the other day...(another
employee) said you were all upset...whatever you heard wasn’t what I
said and whatever I said had nothing to do with pregnancies...I couldn’t
be happier you are having a child…I apologize if there was something you
heard but I didn’t say it, didn’t mean it, didn’t say it.
In her lawsuit, Garrison said she complained to managers but they told
her to “forget it ever happened.” A few months later, Garrison alleged,
Bloomberg “directed” her firing. She did not respond to a request for
Garrison’s initial lawyer in the case, Bonnie Josephs, said of her
former client: “She’s completely credible.” She said Garrison’s
allegation that Bloomberg told her to “kill it” was an “anti-female
statement in the employment context. She had a good cause of action.”
She said Bloomberg should authorize the release of the depositions and
let them be subjected to public scrutiny.
Josephs provided The Post with access to thousands of pages of documents
related to the case.
Bloomberg eventually agreed to a confidential financial settlement with
Garrison, who had sought $5 million in compensatory damages and $300,000
in punitive damages. The amount of the settlement has never been
disclosed, but three sources with knowledge of it described it as being
in six figures.
Shortly after Garrison left the company, an employee named Mary Ann
Olszewski sued Bloomberg LP in 1996, alleging that she was drugged and
raped by her supervisor. She said that employees from Bloomberg on down
engaged in a pattern and practice of “sexual degradation of women” and
that Bloomberg made comments about employees such as, “I’d like to do
that piece of meat.”
Olszewski, who worked as a sales representative, said in her suit that
the company “took no steps to prevent or curtail the ongoing sexual
harassment of female employees by Michael Bloomberg.”
After Olszewski allegedly was raped by a supervisor in a Chicago hotel
room, Bloomberg was informed. He later described his response in a
deposition, an excerpt of which was first published by the Village Voice
in 2001. The full deposition has never been made public. Olszewski could
not be reached for comment.
Bloomberg was asked in the deposition what would constitute
“satisfactory proof” that one of his employees had been raped by another.
“I guess an unimpeachable third-party witness,” he responded.
The lawyer seemed stunned. In what kind of rape, he asked Bloomberg,
would there be a third-party witness?
“There are times when three people are together,” Bloomberg responded.
But, Bloomberg said, if there were only two people present, and they
gave conflicting accounts, there would be no way to know who is telling
the truth and “all we can do is provide separate working environments
for the two.”
Loeser, the spokesman, did not dispute the accuracy of the excerpt but
said Bloomberg “said it during a contentious deposition and this does
not reflect what he believes.”
Bloomberg was also asked in the deposition about Olszewski’s allegation
that he had said he would like to “do that piece of meat.”
Responded Bloomberg: “I don’t recall ever using the term ‘meat’ at all.”
The case was dismissed when Olszewski’s lawyer failed to meet a filing
Bloomberg, who was mayor of New York from 2002 to 2013, put the company
in a blind trust during that period.
In the midst of that service, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission sued Bloomberg LP, alleging it had engaged in a pattern of
discrimination against female employees based on their sex and pregnancy.
The 2007 complaint said the employees’ pay was decreased and that they
were subjected to demotions. In some cases, the women said they were
replaced by junior male employees. Some of the language in the suit
echoed the allegations raised by Garrison.
93. By letter dated July 10, 1995, plaintiff was advised by Bloomberg LP
that her employment with the defendants was terminated effective May 31,
1995 and that, as of that date, she had been suspended from health and
life insurance benefits without notice. Upon information and belief,
Bloomberg directed that plaintiff’s employment be terminated. Plaintiff
was terminated by defendants because she was a pregnant Japanese woman
who had previously complained, and otherwise expressed disgust and
outrage, regarding the hostile and discriminatory work environment at
Bloomberg LP. Her termination was improper because it constituted
unlawful discrimination and unlawful retaliation against ’her -for
complaining about that discrimination.
The company “has been engaged in a pervasive course of discriminatory
conduct based on sex/pregnancy against its pregnant employees. . . .
This systemic, top-down discrimination is fostered, condoned and
perpetuated by the highest levels of management within Bloomberg and by
the ownership of Bloomberg, to wit, Michael Bloomberg” and others. Once
a female employee says she is pregnant, “they fall into disfavor,” the
While the case focused on events that took place when Bloomberg was not
running the company, the EEOC deposed Bloomberg twice, asking him about
the company culture he had fostered. The Post obtained the depositions
under a federal Freedom of Information Act request.
Throughout the hundreds of pages of testimony, Bloomberg repeatedly
denied that there was any discrimination at his company. He also was
asked about Garrison’s allegation that he told her to “kill it” in
reference to her unborn child.
“I never said those words and there would be no reason to do so, it’s
ridiculous and an outrage,” Bloomberg said.
Bloomberg said in one deposition that he tried to hire the best people
“regardless of gender, and men don’t get pregnant, women do, so if
you’re going to have a high proportion of your employees as women,
that’s something that going to happen and you have to accommodate their
During one deposition, Bloomberg was asked about a 2006 email from one
company executive to another that focused on whether the company was
doing enough to help pregnant women and mothers with newborn children.
The executive said that an employee who returned from maternity leave
“cannot juggle full time work and the needs of her infant. She believes
she could work a part-time schedule but I advised her that Bloomberg
makes no provision for helping new moms transition back to work this way.”
The executive complained that the company had lost several valued
employees and that “most large corporations these days have figured out
creative ways to accommodate working moms. . . . I am very surprised by
the lack of flexibility here at Bloomberg.”
As for the policy, Bloomberg said in one deposition that “I don’t
believe part-time work works very well” but that he had tried to
accommodate mothers who had sought it.
Bloomberg grew irritated when a lawyer asked him about women who said
they were discriminated against.
“Do you make up these names or are they legit?” he asked.
“I don’t,” the lawyer responded. “I’ve been taking these depositions,
Mayor Bloomberg, almost 200 so far.”
The case was eventually dismissed by U.S. District Judge Loretta A.
Preska, who wrote that the evidence was “insufficient” to show a pattern
of discrimination “even if there were several isolated instances of
Bloomberg returned to the company in 2014 and last year took leave to
run for president. The company last year expanded its parental leave
policy from 18 weeks of paid leave to 26 weeks, which it said is one of
the most generous in the industry. The company said women hold an
increasing number of top positions.
Trevor Jarrett, who oversaw Bloomberg’s business in Australia and New
Zealand from 1989 to 2001, said he saw Bloomberg’s attitude toward women
Jarrett said he got to know Bloomberg at a time when they worked in an
industry that was “male-dominated and full of inappropriate comments by
everybody, not just Mike. I could tell he changed a lot through the
’90s, including at my recommendation of putting a woman in charge of the
office in Sydney.” Over time, Jarrett said, Bloomberg was “as fair to
women as he was to men.”
Alice Crites contributed to this report.
Michael Kranish is a national political investigative reporter for The
Washington Post. He is the co-author of The Post’s biography "Trump
Revealed," as well as biographies of John F. Kerry and Mitt Romney. He
previously was the deputy chief of the Boston Globe's Washington bureau.
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