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

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  • Kimberley Watkins, an ex-employee of the Democratic presidential contender Andrew Yang, has written an op-ed article in the Gotham Gazette magazine in which she claims Yang fired her because she got married.

  • In 2007, when Watkins said the firing took place, Yang was CEO of the education company Manhattan Prep.

  • Yang denied the accusation. In a statement, he called her claim "inaccurate" and said he made decisions to hire or fire "singularly based on performance."

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A woman has accused the Democratic presidential contender Andrew Yang of firing her in 2007 because she got married.

Kimberly Watkins, a former employee of Manhattan Prep, where Yang was once CEO, said he told her 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 Friday, Watkins described the firing, which she said took place three days after she returned from her honeymoon to work at Manhattan Prep, where Yang was boss.

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

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

Andrew Yang
Andrew Yang

"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," she wrote. "That as a wife, I'd be focused on my new life."

She added: "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 said 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 he says will be brought about by automation.

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

In a statement to HuffPost, Yang disputed Watkins' allegations.

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

"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 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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