Kevin Stitt portrays himself as a conservative family man whose business acumen qualifies him to be governor of Oklahoma, but in the past five years, his mortgage company has been sued three times alleging he or other managers sexually discriminated against women.
Stitt’s business record drew scrutiny during the Republican primary during the summer, as Republicans jockeyed to replace Mary Fallin, the term-limited Republican governor, but his opponents paid little attention to the lawsuits, which suggested a pattern of misogyny at the company’s offices around the country.
Now, as Stitt runs against former Attorney General Drew Edmondson, a Democrat, in the wake of the sexual-assault allegations against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, there is renewed focus nationally on behavior toward women.
In August, Stitt’s company — Gateway Mortgage Group, which he founded in 2000 — settled a case with a former branch manager in California who alleged her superior insinuated she and other women had “slept their way to their positions,” told her to “learn to take orders from a man,” and accused her of lying about having an mammogram appointment and told her to “go take care of your cancer.”
In 2011, another lawsuit accused Stitt of firing a woman without cause and replacing her with a less-qualified man, despite telling her the position itself was being eliminated
According to her lawsuit, the company’s vice president asked her to return to work after four weeks of maternity leave following a scheduled cesarean section. She was immediately placed into a new position without training or support.
In a deposition, she said her work situation deteriorated so badly that she needed anxiety medication, and, about a year and a half after returning from maternity leave, Stitt called her into his office and yelled at her about an issue that predated her.
“I was called in to Kevin’s office and he was furious about what was going on and I don’t even — I still don’t know what it was exactly, but he was very angry and was asking me what the hell was going on in the licensing department and that he was getting really pissed off,” she said. “And I said, ‘I apologize, but I have no idea what you are talking about.’”
She was fired the next day.
And in 2014, a Missouri branch manager sued the company for sexual discrimination, alleging she was fired after she brought a sexual-harassment complaint against her boss.
The woman, who settled with the company in 2015, said her boss had demeaned her for hiring a pregnant woman, told her women were too dumb to be in the business and that her office needed more testosterone.