A number of women have reportedly exposed details of their “toxic” experience while working in Andrew Yang’s presidential campaign, which had been dominated by male leadership.
In an interview with Business Insider, nine former staffers and volunteers reported being sidelined, ignored or belittled by male managers on several occasions, causing some of them to seek mental therapy.
I’m running for President on a platform of Universal Basic Income and evolution to the next stage of capitalism https://t.co/c2BV0iiric
— Andrew Yang🧢🗽🇺🇸 (@AndrewYang) February 8, 2018
Allison Groves, a political organizer of more than 10 years, moved to Iowa in August 2019 to work as regional organizing director for the campaign. She claimed that she was promised a promotion that eventually went to Timothy Clark, then a 21-year-old man who had not graduated from college.
In one incident, Groves reportedly complained about having to drive a field organizer around. Clark allegedly told her to “stop talking” and barred her from the office that day.
“You don’t get to come at people and tell them to stop talking,” Groves told Insider. “You don’t get to come at people like that in the workplace ever.”
After the incident, Groves filed a complaint to Nick Ryan, Yang’s campaign chief at the time, as well as Muhan Zhang, former chief operating officer. Ryan reportedly answered the next day, saying they were “looking for a solution,” but Groves never heard back from him again.
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Another former staffer who knew Clark characterized him as a “symptom” of the problem. “The problem is, in general, this campaign is being run by bros who promote bros,” the former staffer told Insider.
The allegations reportedly date back to as early as fall 2018. Some claimed they were harassed after speaking up.
Others had to submit themselves to therapy. “It f*cked up my self-worth to be constantly belittled and bullied,” a former volunteer said.
Groves, who considered suing the campaign, resigned in January 2020. She signed a $6,000 settlement that reportedly required her to stay silent on specific incidents of alleged discrimination.
Thank you to everyone for your support – here are some deleted scenes from our launch video shoot. Let’s get NYC back on its feet! 👍🗽 pic.twitter.com/f1stZKkr3u
— Andrew Yang🧢🗽🇺🇸 (@AndrewYang) February 1, 2021
A year later, Yang is leading the race to become mayor of New York City. In a statement to Insider, he admitted being “unable to ensure that every employee was heard and respected” during his presidential run.
“When there were conflicts, we did not have a sufficient process to resolve them,” Yang said. “Although we terminated employees involved in reported issues, we didn’t have supportive systems in place to expedite and prioritize reporting. We didn’t account for how much our male-dominated culture alienated female and non-binary employees. I wish we had. For that I am deeply sorry.”
Yang’s current campaign recently made headlines for requiring nondisclosure agreements. However, a spokesman claimed that they already stopped the practice.
Still, the campaign defended its use of such contracts.
“Anyone who experiences sexual harassment in the workplace should be empowered to come forward and make a complaint,” spokesman Jake Sporn told the New York Post. “In fact, one of the primary goals of the agreement was to ensure that our volunteers clearly understood that such conduct would not be tolerated by the campaign.”
NextShark has reached out to Yang’s campaign for further comment and will update once we hear back.
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