As Michael Bloomberg steps into the heated Democratic race for the presidential nomination, where gender equity has become a critical issue in the #MeToo era, he’ll need to contend with his and Bloomberg LP’s history of alleged sexual impropriety.
Over the course of two decades, multiple people have alleged that Bloomberg LP, the financial data and media company founded by the former New York City mayor, had a toxic, misogynistic work culture – which he contributed to, according to a comprehensive Business Insider report.
In court records reviewed by Business Insider, multiple women have alleged that Bloomberg created a discriminatory, predatory and overtly sexual environment that allowed men at the company to “target young, female, naive employees” for sex, as one lawyer wrote. Forty employment lawsuits were filed by 65 individuals at the company over the course of 20 years, and while many of the suits pertained to discrimination issues within the company, others included accusations of sexual assault, rating women’s looks, retaliation for lodging sexual harrassment complaints and suggestions that saleswomen should have sex with their clients. Just three years ago, a woman alleged that she was “drugged, raped, and tormented” by her boss and eventually left the company after a long depression-induced medical leave. A year ago, another woman filed a complaint, describing the company’s atmosphere as oversexed and unprofessional – and then she was then fired, she said, after discovering her employer spent $40,000 for personal use.
Bloomberg LP employees also alleged in various suits that Bloomberg himself was well aware of the predatory behavior of former executive Lou Eccleston, who allegedly flirted with, touched and engaged in sexual relationships with other employees. One particularly distressing account from a former employee detailed Eccleston doing “body shots” off of multiple female employees at a 1990 Christmas party – and then firing the employee who complained about it.
Among the complaints filed were several accusations that Bloomberg himself helped create an imbalance of power among male and female colleagues that promoted inappropriate behavior – though it’s no secret that Bloomberg himself has a reputation for making crude sexual remarks and leering at his female employees. In 2013, Gawker shared a long list of comments Bloomberg has been accused of making over the years (“Look at the ass on her,” he said around a reporter, of all people), as well as an overview of several sexual harassment lawsuits against Bloomberg LP. In mid-November, The New York Times also published an article detailing Bloomberg’s history of making vulgar comments about women. (“If women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they’d go to the library instead of to Bloomingdale’s.”)
“Mike has come to see that some of what he has said is disrespectful and wrong,” Stu Loeser, Bloomberg’s longtime spokesman, told the Times, regarding his history of inappropriate comments toward women. “He believes his words have not always aligned with his values and the way he has led his life.”
However, after Bloomberg returned to his post as CEO of Bloomberg LP in 2014, following his final term as mayor, the company received eight discrimination complaints. The most recent complaint alleges that the company fired an employee while she was undergoing cancer treatment.
If Bloomberg wants a shot at getting the presidential nomination from the Democratic Party, there’s no doubt that he’ll need to face these allegations in an effort to appeal to a more progressive crowd. Perhaps that’ll be the next stop on his apology tour.