A former employee of Andrew Yang claimed he abruptly fired her because she got married and would stop 'working as hard'

Andrew YangAndrew YangAP Photo/Phil Long

  • Kimberley Watkins, an ex-employee of Democratic presidential contender Andrew Yang, writing in the Gotham Gazette Magazine, claims he fired her because she got married.
  • In 2007, when Watkins claims the firing took place, Yang was CEO of education company Manhattan Prep.
  • Yang denies the accusation, In a statement he called her claim "inaccurate," and said he made decisions to hire or fire "singularly based on performance."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories

A woman has claimed that Democratic presidential contender Andrew Yang fired her in 2007 because she got married.

Kimberly Watkins, a former employee of Manhattan Prep, where Yang was once CEO, claimed that he told her that she was fired because she would work less hard after marriage.

Yang has denied the allegation.

Writing in the Gotham Gazette magazine in an essay published Thursday, Kimberley Watkins described the alleged firing, which she said took place three days after she returned to work at Manhattan Prep, where Yang was boss.

The company, later bought by education giant Kaplan, helps people prepare for academic exams.

Watkins claimed that Yang asked to speak with her alone not long after she got back to work.

She wrote: "Our private discussion, in his office with the door closed, began with Andrew's remarks that because I was married, I wouldn't want to continue working as hard as I had been. That as a wife, I'd be focused on my new life."

"Andrew must have calculated that I would work less, travel less, put in fewer hours as a married woman, yet still earn my six-figure bonuses," she wrote.

She claimed that after leaving the company, she was provided with a monthly payment for two years. She likened the payments to Yang's "freedom dividend," a $12,000 a year universal basic income he has pledged to provide to all US citizens over 18 to offset job losses to automation.

"Sounds a lot like Yang's 'freedom dividend' platform doesn't it?... Rather than governing our way into a sustainable economy, Yang's plan absolves the government from overseeing companies that could render countless workers obsolete," Watkins wrote.

In a statement to the Huffington Post, Yang disputed Watkins' allegations.

"As a CEO I made decisions about hiring and firing singularly based on performance," he wrote.

"Kimberly Watkins' facts about her break from Manhattan Prep are inaccurate. 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. Women leaders are vital to any company or organization and I have been very fortunate and grateful to have worked with many of them in my career."

Manhattan Prep was acquired by education giant Kaplan in 2009, and Yang departed as president in 2012.

During his presidential campaign, Yang has spoken of the need to address how gender discrimination leads to pay inequality.

Business Insider has attempted to reach Watkins for additional comment.

Manhattan Prep did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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