Under fire, Bloomberg offers to release three former female employees from NDAs

Democratic presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg is in serious damage control mode.

Under pressure from his opponents, particularly Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), former New York City Mayor Bloomberg said he will release three women, who likely accused him of making sexist comments, from nondisclosure agreements [NDA] if they request it.

Bloomberg’s sudden change

On Thursday, Bloomberg released a statement on the matter. “If any of [the three women] 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,” he said.

Bloomberg went on to claim that the decision to suddenly release these women from these NDAs was the result of reflections on the issue.

“[NDAs] promote a culture of silence in the workplace and contribute to a culture of women not feeling safe or supported,” he said. “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.” Read the full statement here.

The backdrop

It, of course, is no coincidence that Bloomberg’s decision comes only after he faced heavy criticism on the issue. That criticism reached a new height at the recent Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Nevada.

There, leading the charge, was Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who called him an “arrogant billionaire” and blasted his treatment of women. The other candidates piled on as well. Clearly unprepared for the attack, Bloomberg didn’t really have a response.

“I used to teach contract law,” Warren said during a town hall the next day. “And I thought I would make this easy. I wrote up a release and covenant not to sue, and all that Mayor Bloomberg has to do is download it — I’ll text it — sign it, and then the women, or men, will be free to speak and tell their own stories.”

Remaining viable

The NDA issue is nothing new for Bloomberg. In fact, he has been facing it for months, but until recently he has stood behind such agreements. In January, for example, during an appearance on ABC’s The View, Bloomberg claimed that the NDAs were mutual, that “both sides wanted to keep certain things from coming out.”

This points to the obvious reason for the sudden change: Bloomberg is aiming to become the Democratic nominee, now that former Vice President Joe Biden appears to be a flop, and to remain viable he deemed it necessary to get rid of this NDA problem. It’s about as politically expedient as a decision will get.

However, it may not be enough to win over Democrats. Warren dismissed Bloomberg’s offer to release three women from their NDAs as “not good enough.”

“Michael Bloomberg needs to do a blanket release so that all women who have been muzzled by nondisclosure agreements can step up and tell their side of the story in terms of what Michael Bloomberg has done,” she told reporters on Friday, according to Fox News.

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