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Top female officer sues Iowa for gender bias, retaliation

Director Charis Paulson is suing the state police department, saying she's faced years of retaliation after reporting misspending and gender discrimination.
Credit: Iowa Department of Public Safety

IOWA CITY, Iowa — A top-ranking female Iowa law enforcement officer is suing the state police department for what she says is years of retaliation following her reports of misspending and gender discrimination.

Charis Paulson alleges that she's the only director with the Iowa Department of Public Safety to:

  • Work in a cubicle and not a private office.
  • Not have an assigned parking spot.
  • Be excluded from director meetings.
  • Report to someone with a lower rank.

She's currently the only woman ranked among the department's directors, assistant directors and majors.

At a 2019 department-sponsored Women's Leadership Academy, Paulson claims she wasn't allowed to speak, according to the Des Moines Register. The event is meant to provide mentoring for female officers and featured male directors getting introduced and giving welcoming remarks.

Paulson became the first woman to lead the Division of Criminal Investigation in 2012 and in recent years has served in department administrative roles.

She filed a lawsuit this week, alleging she's faced retaliation since reporting misspending and disparate treatment in 2016.

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