Bloomberg says his company will release three women from NDAs if they ask

By Kathryn Watson

/ CBS News

Bloomberg takes aim at Sanders after debate

Mike Bloomberg announced Friday afternoon that women who signed nondisclosure agreements over complaints about comments they claimed Bloomberg had made will be released from those NDAs if they ask. Bloomberg LP has identified three such NDAs signed over the past 30-plus years that fell into this category, he said in a statement.

The founder said his company won't offer confidentiality agreements for sexual harassment or misconduct claims as long as he's running the place. Bloomberg has been accused in the past of making sexist, offensive comments at his company.

The multi-billionaire's reversal on the subject came after a few days of reflection on Bloomberg's part, after Wednesday night's debate. He came under fire in the Las Vegas Democratic debate when Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden pressured him to release women who worked as his company from their NDAs. Bloomberg said he'd done nothing except perhaps "maybe they didn't like a joke I told," eliciting audible gasps from the audience. He said at the time that the NDAs would stand.

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Bloomberg issued the lengthy statement Friday afternoon.

"I've had the company go back over its record and they've identified 3 NDAs that we signed over the past 30-plus years with women to address complaints about comments they said I had made," Bloomberg said in a statement. "If any of them want to be released from their NDA so that they can talk about those allegations, they should contact the company and they'll be given a release. I've done a lot of reflecting on this issue over the past few days and I've decided that for as long as I'm running the company, we won't offer confidentiality agreements to resolve claims of sexual harassment or misconduct going forward."

"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 is imperative that when problems occur, workplaces not only address the specific incidents, but the culture and practices that led to those incidents. And then leaders must act," he added.

Bloomberg went on to say he'd review workplace policies at Bloomberg LP, review the workplace policies at his campaign, and push for specific legislation for women's equality in the workplace.

"When we share a respect for each other and treat all of our colleagues as we ourselves would wish to be treated, we all do our best work. This is something Donald Trump does not understand — not when he ran his business, and not now when he is recklessly running our country. I will be a leader whom women can trust," Bloomberg said.

The former New York City mayor has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on television ads, but his debate performance on Wednesday made many pundits question whether he will be able to go toe-to-toe with his opponents, who have already been debating for months.

First published on February 21, 2020 / 4:48 PM

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Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.