Elizabeth Mae Davidson, a former staffer for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign, has filed a gender discrimination complaint with the Davenport, Iowa Civil Rights Commission about her treatment while working for the campaign, according to the New York Times.
In the complaint, Davidson alleges that that men and women with the same job titles were paid unequally. As a district representative, she claims that she was paid $2,000 a month and classified as part-time because of her other job as a paralegal. Yet she says that another male staffer in the same situation was paid more. According to the Times’s analysis of public filings, several men with the same title made $3,500 to $4,000 a month.
The complaint also says that men planned and spoke at rallies while she wasn’t allowed those opportunities, and that when she met Trump at a rally last summer he told her and a female volunteer, “You guys could do a lot of damage,” referring to their looks.
Davidson was fired this month after a Times article about problems among senior Trump Iowa staffers. Her complaint says she was terminated for making disparaging remarks about those campaign leaders, but she denies saying anything to the media and that men with her job title were also quoted in the story without being terminated.
Trump has denied the remark about Davidson’s and the other volunteer’s looks, telling the Times, “That is not the worst thing that could be said… But I never said it. It’s not in my vocabulary.” He didn’t address the other allegations, although he said Davidson is a disgruntled employee and “My people tell me she did a terrible job.”
As a businessman, Trump has a track record of working with women, many of whom told the Washington Post that he was ahead of the times in giving women opportunities for career advancement. But they also recount some troubling incidents. Barbara Res, who was in charge of the construction of Trump Tower in 1980, told the paper that he used to tell her and others that “men are better than women, but a good woman is better than ten good men.” While she said he was sexist, she claimed he didn’t discriminate against women. Louise Sunshine, who worked in his real estate business, says Trump kept an unflattering “fat picture” of her at a time when she was struggling with her weight that he pulled out when she did something he didn’t like. (It’s a story Trump has said is false.)
But even if Davidson’s complaints of discrimination are proven to be true, that wouldn’t make Trump or his campaign terribly unique. There are usually about 1,000 charges of gender pay discrimination filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission each year. Across the economy, women who work full-time, year round still make 79 percent of what men make, on average, a gap that shows up in every industry and virtually every job. And while there are many causes of that gap, economists can’t rule out discrimination as a likely factor.