DAVENPORT, IOWA — Attorneys for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump are trying to stop Elizabeth Mae Davidson, the woman accusing the Trump campaign of gender discrimination, from speaking publicly about her allegations, Davidson’s attorney told ThinkProgress on Monday.
Davenport-based labor attorney Dorothy O’Brien said Trump’s attorneys contacted her client shortly after news broke on Sunday that Davidson was taking legal action against her former employer. Davidson was a field organizer for the Trump campaign in Iowa before she was fired on Jan. 14, one day after a New York Times article reported problems with the team Davidson worked for.
“They don’t want Elizabeth talking to the press,” O’Brien said, referring to Trump’s attorneys. “They claim talking to the press would be a violation of her non-disparagement clause in her contract.”
O’Brien said that before Davidson took the organizing job in Iowa, she signed a contract including a non-disparagement clause — essentially, a legal agreement not to say anything bad about the candidate. O’Brien said she had a copy of the contract, but declined to provide a copy to ThinkProgress.
“It says, basically, that you won’t talk bad, you won’t say anything negative about Mr. Trump and his outfit, his campaign, or his organization,” she said.
A Trump campaign spokesperson did not respond to ThinkProgress’ request for comment.
O’Brien did provide ThinkProgress with a copy of Davidson’s complaint, which accuses the Trump campaign of paying men more than women; of giving male staffers more opportunities to advance than female staffers; and of making at least one sexist comment toward Davidson. The relevant portion of Davidson’s complaint is below:
Since the complaint was filed, Trump has fired back against the allegations. He said he “never” made sexist remarks toward Davidson, and that she was likely fired due to poor job performance. “My people tell me she did a terrible job,” he told the New York Times. But Trump also attacked Davidson’s personal character, saying he’s heard “some very strange reports about her. She goes around dressing like Melania, my wife.”
On Monday, O’Brien begged to differ on job performance, noting that the Times article Davidson was fired over portrayed her as “one of the campaign’s most effective organizers.”
“She’s a very intelligent, capable young woman who worked her heart out for the Trump campaign. And they treated her badly,” she said . “But she’s a strong young woman and you know, it’s a tough time for her, but she’ll get through it.”
One interesting tidbit about Davidson’s case against Trump is that it’s a bipartisan effort. While Davidson is a staunch Republican — her mother, Judy Davidson, is the Republican chairwoman of Scott County — her attorney O’Brien is a Democrat (and winery owner) who once ran for state Senate.
Asked if her Democratic-leanings influenced her to take on Davidson’s case, O’Brien paused.
“I would have to say that I was very interested in hearing about what happened, what her experiences were on the Trump campaign,” she said. “But I didn’t take the case because she’s a Republican. I just took the case because she’s a very capable young woman and she had a bad experience with discrimination.”
As for what’s next, Davidson’s case against Trump will stay at the Davenport Civil Rights Commission for at least 60 days. After that, she can either leave her case with the commission — where an administrative law judge would handle it — or bring it to state court, where it would likely be heard by a jury.