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A former staffer has accused Trump’s campaign of sexism. Here’s her legal complaint.

Elizabeth Davidson says Trump made a comment about her looks when she met him in Iowa.
Elizabeth Davidson says Trump made a comment about her looks when she met him in Iowa.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

A former organizer for Donald Trump in Iowa formally accused the campaign of gender discrimination, filing a complaint that men working on the campaign are paid more and allowed to plan and speak at rallies while women are not.

The organizer, Elizabeth Davidson, a part-time employee, was characterized in the New York Times on January 13 as "one of the campaign’s most effective organizers."

Davidson had opened the campaign's second field office in Iowa and recruited captains in nearly all its precincts, reporter Trip Gabriel wrote, while most of Trump's campaign was "amateurish and halting, committing basic organizing errors."

The day after the Times article appeared, Davidson was fired. Although the article only quoted Davidson encouraging a prospective volunteer, the Trump campaign told her she had made disparaging comments in the press and broken a nondisclosure agreement.

In a charge of discrimination filed with the Davenport Civil Rights Commission on Sunday, Davidson argues she believes her gender played a role in her termination:

The campaign's full-time district representatives are all men, who planned and spoke at rallies while Davidson's requests to do so were ignored, according to the complaint.

The male district representatives were also paid more, Davidson said. Per the New York Times:

Ms. Davidson said she was paid $2,000 a month and was classified as part-time because she also had a job as a paralegal. But she said another district representative, Marc Elcock, was paid more though he, too, has a day job, as a lawyer.

According to public filings, several men who held the same title, including Mr. Elcock, were paid $3,500 to $4,000 a month.

The complaint also alleges Trump made a comment about Davidson's looks when she met him, saying, "You guys could do a lot of damage," to Davidson and another female volunteer.

Trump denied this in an interview with the Times. But he also said it was "not the worst thing that could be said."

Trump himself has a history of sexist remarks. During his feud with Megyn Kelly, his supporters tweeted "bimbo" and "bitch" at the Fox News host. And he's characterized his remarks about women as a heroic stand against political correctness. This puts Davidson's complaints in a broader context: She's not accusing just any campaign of sexism, but a campaign whose candidate's reputation is built in part on outrageously sexist remarks.

Hope Hicks, Trump's communications director, wrote in an email to Vox that the campaign had not been notified of the complaint.

"Regardless, these claims from a disgruntled former part-time employee are without merit," Hicks said. "She is in violation of her contract and continues to disparage the campaign with falsehoods, which, in addition to doing a terrible job, is why she was terminated weeks ago."