“After nearly 20 years inside the Beltway, working for two White Houses and countless political campaigns, I’ve never witnessed such egregious violations as I did during my time under the leadership of Donald Trump and Mike Pence,” Newman said in a statement to Vox on Monday.
She is seeking to join a suit filed by Alva Johnson, a former Trump campaign staffer who says Trump kissed her without her consent in August 2016 and paid her less than white male staffers. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called Johnson’s misconduct allegation “absurd,” and a campaign spokesperson said her claims about pay were “unfounded,” according to the Washington Post.
“The Trump campaign has never discriminated based on race, ethnicity, gender, or any other basis,” Kayleigh McEnany, national press secretary for the Trump campaign, said in a statement to media. “Any allegation suggesting otherwise is off base and unfounded.”
Newman is not alleging sexual misconduct by Trump. Instead, she and her legal team are saying the Trump campaign had a pattern of paying men and women unequally, paying female staffers nearly 20 percent less than male staffers.
The suit could add to Trump’s legal troubles at a time when he faces challenges on multiple fronts. And as the 2020 election approaches, it could bring renewed attention to Trump’s treatment of women, adding pay discrimination to the long list of allegations against him.
Omarosa Manigault Newman says the Trump campaign paid her less than male staffers
Newman served as director of African American outreach for the Trump campaign, and later joined the Trump White House as an assistant to the president and director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison. She was fired in 2017, and went on to release recordings of her time in the White House and publish a book about her experiences called Unhinged. Among other allegations, she said in the book that she believed the president had been caught on tape using the n-word, though she said she had not personally heard the tape.
Now Newman is filing documents to join a suit against the president and his campaign in federal court in Tampa, Florida. She alleges that she was paid less than a male campaign employee “whose work required substantially equal skill, effort, and responsibility,” according to court documents.
In the documents, Newman also says she believes the campaign paid other female employees less than men employed in similar jobs.
“While I strongly suspected I was subjected to pay discrimination while with the Trump Campaign, I have since seen expert analysis confirming this to be true,” Newman said in her statement. “The numbers don’t lie.”
According to Hassan Zavareei, the lead attorney in the case, the analysis, by economist Phillip Johnson, shows that the Trump campaign paid female employees 18.2 percent less than men.
Newman is seeking to join the lawsuit already filed by Johnson, a former staffer who sued Trump in February, alleging both sexual misconduct and discrimination. Johnson, who is black, said that Trump kissed her without consent before a Florida rally, and that the campaign paid her less than white male staffers, according to the Washington Post.
Zavareei, who represents Johnson, is filing a motion for collective action so his team can reach out to other former campaign employees and invite them to join the suit.
Newman’s effort comes at a time when Trump is waging legal battles on multiple fronts. Democrats and the White House are in conflict over whether special counsel Robert Mueller will testify before Congress about his findings regarding Russian interference in the election. And earlier this year, a judge in New York ruled that a lawsuit by Summer Zervos, a former Apprentice contestant who says Trump sexually assaulted her, can go forward despite the Trump team’s arguments that the president cannot be sued in state court.
Trump and his backers in the Republican Party have long countered allegations of sexual misconduct against him by arguing that he was a great boss for women in the Trump Organization, hiring and promoting them in the largely male real estate development industry. Newman’s suit raises questions about whether his campaign actually treated women fairly.
“This case is about two things: Donald Trump’s predation, and his campaign’s discrimination against women and people of color,” Zavareei said in a statement to Vox.
The American people have heard a lot about the former allegation. They may be about to hear a lot about the latter.