As Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg’s poll numbers continue to rise, the billionaire financial mogul is facing increased scrutiny over reports that he created a workplace culture of rampant misogyny, bullying, and sexual harassment–including an incident where he allegedly told a pregnant female employee that she should “kill it.” Although the female employee, Sekiko Sakai Garrison, sued and eventually reached a confidential settlement with Bloomberg, one of her co-workers publicly confirmed for the first time that he too witnessed the former New York City mayor make the comment, according to the Washington Post.
“I remember she had been telling some of her girlfriends that she was pregnant,” David Zielenziger, a former Bloomberg technology writer said in an interview with the Post. “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.”
In her 1998 lawsuit, Garrison claimed that after she revealed her pregnancy to Bloomberg, he responded by saying, “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,” the complaint stated.
Zielenziger, who had never previously spoken publicly about the matter and was not deposed as part of Garrison’s lawsuit, told the news outlet that Bloomberg’s behavior toward Garrison was “outrageous,” but not unusual.
“He talked kind of crudely about women all the time,” Zielenziger said of Bloomberg.
Garrison also claimed that after reporting the comments to management she was told to “forget it ever happened,” but was terminated a few months later.
Bonnie Josephs, Garrison’s initial attorney in the action against Bloomberg, told the Post that she had no doubt her former client was telling the truth about the incident.
“She’s completely credible,” Josephs said, adding that Bloomberg’s remark was “anti-female statement in the employment context.” Josephs also called on Bloomberg to authorize the public release of the deposition transcripts from the litigation.
In sworn deposition testimony, Bloomberg repeatedly denied the allegations. A Bloomberg spokesperson told the Post that the candidate would not release anyone from a confidentiality agreement and that he would not release his sealed depositions from any of the cases.
[image via via Yana Paskova_Getty Images]