It was a contract she had written that gave emerging President Michael Bloomberg – the economic mogul and former mayor of New York – the opportunity to release former employees of his financial information company of the same name from confidentiality agreements signed years ago. On Friday, after violent setbacks during the debate, Bloomberg changed its position and agreed that three women who had personally accused him of misconduct could be released from their confidentiality agreements. But this gesture doesn`t go far enough. “Bloomberg and the company release all obligations contained in an agreement, including, but not limited to, but not limited to, an agreement on the establishment of jobs, severance pay or confidentiality agreements between Bloomberg and/or the company and any other person, as long as these obligations prevent the other person from disclosing information about sexual harassment, discrimination or other misconduct in the company or by Bloomberg itself. As a result of this publication, it is up to the other person to disclose or not disclose this information. In a statement, Bloomberg, which operates the Bloomberg LP media group, said the agreements “relate to comments they said I made them” and that women should contact his company for a publication. The revelations and accusations about Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes and Bill O`Reilly, to name but a few, clearly show that women are often forced to accept confidentiality agreements that result in heavy financial penalties for those who choose to speak out. For decades, NDAs have been used by employers as a tool to silence victims of sexual harassment and protect sexual harassers. Bloomberg also said Friday that it has ended the company`s long-standing practice of requiring such confidentiality agreements when comparisons are made with employee complaints related to sexual harassment. Former Vice President Joe Biden`s campaign, which joined Warren`s calls to get women out of the agreements during Wednesday`s debate, said Bloomberg`s promise “doesn`t basic much mean anything to the public.” However, a total ban on the NDA under transaction agreements would not eliminate sexual harassment and is not always in the best interests of women.
Many women – the vast majority of women we have represented in sexual harassment and sexual violence – want to preserve their privacy and keep the details of the trauma and abuse they have suffered confidential. So women have to have a choice. Asked by Warren during the debate, Bloomberg said of the confidentiality agreements: “None of them accuse me of doing anything other than not liking a joke I told.” Companies often rely on DNas to prohibit employees from disclosing the details of a complaint in connection with a transaction. Public awareness of how agreements silence workers who would otherwise face sexual harassment and discrimination has increased considerably since the beginning of the #MeToo movement.