[Marxism] Mike Bloomberg for years has battled women’s allegations of profane, sexist comments

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Feb 15 09:39:56 MST 2020


(My own encounter with Bloomberg: 
https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/12/06/michael-bloomberg-and-me/)

The Washington Post, Feb. 15, 2020
Mike Bloomberg for years has battled women’s allegations of profane, 
sexist comments
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.”

Garrison complaint:

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 
agreements.

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 
specifics.

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” 
that case.

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.”

Garrison complaint:

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.

Garrison complaint:

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.”

Garrison complaint:

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 
explicit language.

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 
conversation.

“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 
believe it.”

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 
handwritten note):

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 
comment.

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 
deadline.

EEOC lawsuit

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.

Garrison complaint
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 
suit said.

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 
needs.”

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 
individual discrimination.”

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 
change.

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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