When Great Neck resident David Zielenziger worked for Bloomberg LP in the 1990s, he overheard an interaction between a fellow employee and Michael Bloomberg that he said left him shocked.
Zielenziger said he witnessed a conversation between Bloomberg, who is now running for president, and co-worker Sekiko Sakai Garrison on April 11, 1995.
According to a complaint filed by Garrison in Federal District Court on Feb. 24, 1998, Bloomberg ridiculed recently married employees.
In this instance, the complaint states, Garrison informed Bloomberg her married life was “great” and that she was pregnant. In response to this, Bloomberg said, “Kill it!” according to the complaint.
When asked to repeat himself, Bloomberg said, “Kill it!” and then muttered “Great! Number 16!” suggesting his unhappiness that 16 women in the company had a maternity-related status, according to the complaint.
Zielenziger, who was working as a journalist for the company at the time, said the interaction left him stunned.
“Normal people don’t say stuff like that,” Zielenziger said. “He had a good relationship with the women in his life even after a divorce. I just don’t know why he would even say that.”
Zielenziger first gave his account to The Washington Post, who Zielenziger said reached out to him. The article has sparked political figures to speak out on the comments Bloomberg made.
“The way Michael Bloomberg treated female employees … to have created that kind of culture, that unsafe workplace, to feel that you’re being harassed because of your gender, that is problematic,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said on Fox News Sunday. “I think you’re going to hear more of it.”
Conway went on to say that the comments were “far worse” than Donald Trump’s comments in the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape when he bragged that he could grab women by the genitals.
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace: “I think he [Bloomberg] is going to have to answer to that and speak to it. This is a time where voters are looking for a president who can lead us out of the days when it was just commonplace or accepted to have these kinds of sexist and discriminatory attitudes.”
A statement from the Michael Bloomberg 2020 campaign said, “Virtually all of this has been reported over the past two decades. In any large organization, there are going to be complaints — but Mike simply does not tolerate any kind of discrimination or harassment, and he’s created cultures that are all about equality and inclusion.”
According to Zielenziger, who worked for Bloomberg LP from 1992 to 2002, Garrison was tasked with calling the Japanese investment banks and was a valuable saleswoman for the company. He noted that women were employed throughout the office and said Bloomberg was simply upset about working around another employee set to go on maternity leave.
“He was obviously annoyed at the situation and the need to pay benefits and allow [Garrison] to take time off from work,” he said. “You just don’t speak to someone like that.”
The lawsuit, filed in 1998, was settled, according to Zielenziger. He said he did not speak to Garrison about the matter or participate in the lawsuit.
“I assume the plaintiffs received substantial settlements since the case was dealt with outside of court,” Zielenziger said.
The complaint also states Bloomberg told a company salesperson, “It’s a f—- baby! All it does is eat and s—! It doesn’t know the difference between you and anyone else! All you need is some black who doesn’t even have to speak English to rescue it from a burning building!”
Zielenziger mentioned that at the time “locker room talk” was prominent in the business world. Despite the conversation he overheard and others alleged in the complaint, he said he did not hear Bloomberg speak negatively of other employees for their race, religion or ethnicity.
“I truly don’t know if this will hurt him” in the presidential election, he said. “It didn’t affect my tenure with the company. He was just that type of guy.”