Former employee says he heard Bloomberg ask a female co-worker if she was going to 'kill it' after announcing her pregnancy

insider@insider.com (Connor Perrett)
  • A former employee of  Michael Bloomberg corroborated an accusation that the business mogul told a woman to "kill it" after she announced her pregnancy, according to The Washington Post. 

  • Bloomberg, now a Democratic presidential candidate, has faced repeated faced accusations of directing sexist and crude comments to women at his company, Bloomberg LP, and previously denied that he told this to a female employee. 

  • "He talked kind of crudely about women all the time," the former employee told The Washington Post.

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Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at a campaign event Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Billionaire presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg once remarked that a pregnant employee at his company should "kill it" upon learning that she was pregnant, a former Bloomberg employee told The Washington Post.

While the particular allegation has previously been reported as it was the subject of a highly publicized lawsuit against Bloomberg in 1997, a former Bloomberg employee who wasn't involved in that lawsuit said he heard Bloomberg make the comments.

Bloomberg has denied the particular allegation under oath during the lawsuit, though he eventually reached an undisclosed settlement with the woman, Sekiko Sakai Garrison, once a top salesperson at his company. 

According to court documents, the incident occurred on April 11, 1995 when Bloomberg noted Garrison, who began working for Bloomberg in 1989, hadn't been invited to participate in a photo. 

"Why didn't they ask you to be in the picture? I guess they saw your face," Bloomberg said to Garrison, according to the complaint from the 90s, that as Business Insider previously noted, has continued to cause issues for Bloomberg in the decades that have followed. 

He asked her about her marriage — apparently part of a pattern that involved Bloomberg prodding and ridiculing women in his office who were married. When Garrison told Bloomberg her marriage was good, in part, because she was pregnant, Bloomberg reportedly made the comments. 

"He responded to her, 'Kill it!'" the court documents read. "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."

In the WaPo report published Saturday, David Zielenziger, a former Bloomberg employee told the Washington Post he heard Bloomberg make the comment, calling it "outrageous." "I understood why she took offense," he added. 

"I remember she had been telling some of her girlfriends that she was pregnant," Zielenziger told the Washington 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."

Zielenziger told the DC newspaper that he never spoke to Garrison about the incident and was not a party in her lawsuit against their former boss. 

"He talked kind of crudely about women all the time," Zielenziger said, adding that the type of comment was typical of the billionaire. 

Ken Cooper, identified as a software engineer who now leads Bloomberg's human resources department, told the Washington Post in an interview set up by Bloomberg's team that, while he did not hear the comments, he confirmed that Garrison had — at the time — recounted what she had heard. 

When word got to Bloomberg that Garrison had been upset by his comments, the CEO called her and left a lengthy voicemail claiming that she had misinterpreted his comments, according to notes taken by Garrison published by The Washington Post.  

"When you have time, give me a buzz or stop by...I don't understand," Bloomberg said on a message he left for Garrison, according to the handwritten account. "I didn't even know you were pregnant until the other day...(another employee) said you were all upset...whatever you heard wasn't what I said and whatever I said had nothing to do with pregnancies...I couldn't be happier you are having a child…I apologize if there was something you heard but I didn't say it, didn't mean it, didn't say it."

"Virtually all of this has been reported over the past two decades," a Bloomberg spokesperson told Business Insider. "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."

Business Insider has previously detailed the reported culture at Bloomberg, which was described by one former employee as a "reckless playground" for the company's male executives who would "target young, female, naive employees" for sex. There have been numerous lawsuits against the company over the course of the past two decades, according to the report. 

There are two reports of alleged sexual assault by executives at Bloomberg's company, Busines Insider reported, with the most recent report occurring in 2016. Bloomberg himself was known for his crude comments, which are further detailed in the booklet published by The Washington Post on Saturday. 

"In any large organization, there are going to be complaints — but Mike has never tolerated any kind of discrimination or harassment, and he's created cultures that are all about equality and inclusion," Campaign Chair Patricia E. Harris said in an emailed statement, adding that she's worked with Bloomberg for 26 and "he has always hired and promoted women into senior leadership roles."

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