Public Safety

Female Anamosa police officer sues for gender discrimination

Amy Ford claims chief would not replace her gear, assigned her more weekends, made sexist jokes

Anamosa Police Officer Amy Ford in a photo from the agency’s website Jan. 31, 2016. (Photo from Anamosa Police Department)
Anamosa Police Officer Amy Ford in a photo from the agency’s website Jan. 31, 2016. (Photo from Anamosa Police Department)

ANAMOSA — The Anamosa Police Department’s only female officer is suing the city and police chief for gender discrimination.

Amy Ford, who has been an officer in Anamosa since 2007, filed a lawsuit Dec. 29 in Jones County against the city and Chief Robert Simonson. She asserts Simonson didn’t replace her outdated equipment, passed her over for a promotion and assigned her more weekend shifts.

“Chief Simonson scorns plaintiff’s requests to use her vacation time to fulfill parenting responsibilities, but readily accommodates male officers’ requests to use their vacation time to go hunting,” the suit states.

Simonson makes sexual jokes in the office and criticizes female complainants and women in authority, Ford alleges in the suit.

Ford says her ballistics vest, used to protect the chest from bullets, expired in 2010 and stopped fitting her in 2013. When she asked for a new one, Simonson said it wasn’t in the budget, the suit asserts. Ford found a grant she thought would cover the cost of a new vest and provided the application materials to Simonson, but he did not apply, the suit states.

Ford filed formal complaints about gender discrimination and retaliation with the city, which caused male co-workers to “de-friend” her on Facebook and stop responding to work-related text messages, she says in the suit.

When City Administrator Alan Johnson responded to the complaints in early September, he called her concerns “nitpicking and backbiting,” the suit states.

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Ford filed a complaint Sept. 8 with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. The group has not decided her case, but issued her a right-to-sue letter in early December, according to the lawsuit.

Simonson became Anamosa police chief in May 2010 after serving with the Maquoketa Police Department for 22 years, the Quad-City Times reported. The Anamosa department has eight officers, including Simonson, and Ford is the only woman, according to the city’s website.

Johnson declined Monday to comment on the lawsuit.

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