Kimberly Watkins is a former Manhattan GMAT executive who says Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang fired her in 2007 shortly after she got married.
Watkins claims Yang told her that he assumed she would want to focus on her new life as a wife. Watkins made the accusation in an essay for the Gotham Gazette.
Yang has denied the accusation. The campaign issued an official statement from Yang in which he described Watkins’ claim as “inaccurate” and insisted that he made employment decisions based on performance only. Yang served as the president and managing director of the test-prep company from 2006 until 2011.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Watkins Says Yang Alleged That She Wouldn’t Want to Work as Hard as a Married Woman
Kimberly Watkins claimed in the Gotham Gazette editorial that her firing was unexpected and that it happened shortly after she returned from her honeymoon in 2007. She says Yang had promoted her to Senior Director the year prior and she reached all of her sales goals.
Watkins says Yang called her into his office and alleged that she would not want to work as hard now that she was a married woman. “I didn’t even realize at the time how unethical his reason was. I was singularly focused on the embarrassment I felt. How could he fire me after all that I had accomplished at the company.” Watkins added that she assumed Yang could hire cheaper employees to handle the work.
Yang has denied the accusation. His campaign released a statement to the Huffington Post which stated that he made employee decisions based solely on performance. Yang stated, “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.”
2. Kimberly Watkins Says Andrew Yang Continued to Pay Her For Two Years After Firing Her
Kimberly Watkins criticized Andrew Yang’s “Freedom Dividend” when sharing her story with the Gotham Gazette. Yang has proposed giving every American adult $1,000 per month, no strings attached.
Watkins called herself the first recipient of such a plan. She says Yang continued to pay her for two years after firing her from Manhattan GMAT. She said the deal was “commensurate with what he believed I deserved, a monthly payment for no longer working.”
Watkins has questioned Yang’s proposal because she claims it’ll give employers license to operate with less. She wrote, “Rather than governing our way into a sustainable economy, Yang’s plan absolves the government from overseeing companies that could render countless workers obsolete. With a monthly payment, the under-educated, aging, perhaps newly married – the obsolete employees – recede into the background as trillion-dollar companies continue to grow unfettered and ungoverned as they have for decades.”
3. Watkins Worked at Manhattan GMAT For Six Years & Was Fired More Than a Year After Andrew Yang Joined the Company
Kimberly Watkins worked her way up the ranks at the test-prep company Manhattan GMAT over more than six years. According to her Facebook page, Watkins was one of the company’s first employees when it was founded in 2001. Her title was “Director of Marketing and Student Services.”
Watkins explained in her editorial for Gotham Gazette that she was the “primary revenue generator during the start-up years. I had been one of the first Manhattan GMAT teachers, so I knew the test really well, and in the early days, I spoke to every single student, every single customer.”
4. Kim Watkins Is a Fitness Trainer & Launched Her Own Company In 1997
Kimberly Watkins has been a business owner since at least 1997. According to public records on the New York Secretary of State’s website, she launched her business “InShape” that year.
On the website, Watkins touts her workouts as simple exercises that people can do at home. The home page reads, “We come to you at home, your office, or online! Using assessments and a blend of strength, endurance, flexibility, balance, and core work, Coach Kim and team will teach you, motivate you, and push you towards complete health and natural strength.” The home page includes photos of exercises being done in living rooms, on a stage and even in a grocery store.
Watkins further explained on her Facebook page, “At inSHAPE Fitness, we believe that retail gyms cause more problems than they solve. People need results, yes, but they also need convenience and practical solutions for everyday exercise needs. They need a plan when plans are constantly changing.”
5. Watkins Serves as the President of a Public Education Council In New York City
Kimberly Watkins has a daughter and has remained active in public education. According to the organization’s website, Watkins serves as the President of the Community Education Council for District 3, which covers the Upper West Side and South Harlem schools in the New York City Public School system.
The councils are elected every two years. The CEC board members are responsible for helping to oversee the district by reviewing educational programs and assessing whether they are beneficial for students.