IOWA CITY, Iowa — A former organizer for Donald Trump in Iowa who filed a legal complaint accusing the campaign of gender discrimination has decided not to pursue a lawsuit, her attorney says.
Elizabeth Mae Davidson received a right-to-sue letter from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a requirement before suing an employer for alleged discrimination, attorney Dorothy O’Brien said. But Davidson, now a 28-year-old University of Iowa law student, is no longer interested in pursuing the case and opted not to bring a case against the campaign, she said.
“My client is not going to say another word about it,” O’Brien said.
Davidson’s complaint, filed in January 2016 days before the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, made national news and put Trump on the defensive. She alleged that male campaign employees were given better jobs, more opportunities and higher pay than female workers. She also accused Trump of commenting on her looks, saying he told her and another volunteer during an introduction in the summer of 2015 that “You guys could do a lot of damage.” Trump has denied making that remark and the campaign has called her complaints meritless.
The campaign fired Davidson, a part-time organizer who was based in Davenport, following an article in the New York Times that described her as “one of the campaign’s most effective organizers” in an otherwise amateurish operation. The article noted that Davidson had opened the campaign’s second field office and recruited dozens of precinct captains in Scott County, where her mother was then the Republican Party chairwoman.
In her complaint, Davidson said the Trump campaign accused her of making “disparaging comments about senior campaign leaders to third parties” and breaching a non-disclosure agreement. She denied providing information to the media and said that three male organizers who were quoted in the press didn’t face any adverse actions. She alleged that all full-time district representatives for the campaign were men, and that they were allowed to plan and speak at rallies while her requests to do so were denied.
At the time, campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks said that “these claims from a disgruntled former part-time employee are without merit.” She added that Davidson was fired for violating her contract and “doing a terrible job.”
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz won the 2016 Iowa caucuses while Trump finished second, ahead of several other candidates. Trump won Iowa in the general election.
Davidson initially filed the complaint with the Davenport Civil Rights Commission, but the Trump campaign didn’t respond, O’Brien said. The case was forwarded to the U.S. EEOC, where the campaign’s initial defense was that Davidson was an independent contractor not protected by federal anti-discrimination laws, she said.