Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang has come under fire by a former employee who claims she was let go from her job because she tied the knot, according to a bombshell article authored by the accuser.
Continue Reading Below
“Despite my hitting every single revenue mark set for me, despite not a single employment infraction over the six years, Andrew Yang fired me because I got married,” Kimberly Watkins wrote in an article posted to Medium on Thursday, prior to her testimony to NYC Commission on Gender Equity on pay equality.
It was the first time she had spoken publicly about her firing, she said.
Watkins said she worked with Yang at test prep company Manhattan GMAT from 2001 to 2007, initially under the business’s founder, Zeke Vanderhoek, who hired her as the “first official employee of the company,” she said.
Over the years, the company expanded and Watkin’s role changed from teacher to marketing and student services director and then, when Yang took over in 2006, to senior director.
“Andrew and I worked well together, and had a high level of mutual professional respect,” she said.
But with Yang, who was CEO of Manhattan GMAT, eager to quicken the company’s pace to success, the pressure was on.
Watkins wasn’t the first to get married. Two others had already tied the knot, one even had a child.
But three days after Watkins, 39, returned from her two-and-a-half week honeymoon in October 2007, Yang called her into his office.
“And behind closed doors, he opined that I wouldn’t want to keep working as hard as I had now that I’d started this new personal chapter,” she recounted. That as a married woman, I’d want to focus on my new life.”
“And just like that, my new life was shattered. My financial security was blown to bits,” she later added.
Watkins was given a monthly payment plan as part of her termination, which handed down a portion of her salary over the course of two years.
“We even conjured a lie about my departure, that I was willingly leaving, in order for me to save face. I was so broken, so shattered that I chose to keep a secret about my departure in order to save myself from the embarrassment.”
Watkins called her firing a way for Yang to “get close to the exit strategy that lie ahead.” Years later, Manhattan GMAT sold to Kaplan for $88 million, she said.
“I did not fully grasp the significance of this breach of ethics at the time and really wish that I knew then what I know now about gender issues in the workplace,” she said. “The law does not protect employees from the greed of their employers, and I was a drag on Andrew’s bottom line.”
In a statement to HuffPost, Yang called Watkins's account "inaccurate."
"As a CEO, I made decisions about hiring and firing singularly based on performance," he said, in part. "During my more than a decade as CEO, I have worked with many women, married and otherwise, and value their work and dedication as important to the success of any institution. If I were the kind of leader who would do the sort of thing described by Ms. Watkins I would never enjoy a whiff of success."
Watkins's article concluded with a call for action on gender issues, including equal pay and treatment for women – a topic that Yang has also highlighted during his campaign.
“Andrew Yang didn’t harass me physically. But he did treat me unjustly. He violated me economically. And I am ready to fight for solutions that protect women in all areas of our lives.”
The Yang campaign did not respond to FOX Business' multiple requests for comment.