Iowa officer sues city, police chief over discrimination, forced resignation

The LEO claims when she reported discrimination and sexual harassment, she faced retaliation and a request from a city administrator to resign or be fired


Erin Jordan
The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

WEST UNION, Iowa — A former West Union police officer has filed a lawsuit against the city, city administrator and the police chief alleging sexual harassment, gender discrimination and retaliation.

Sierra Fox, who worked in the West Union Police Department from July 2015 until last month, claims in the suit filed Tuesday in Fayette County that Police Chief Paul Bechtold treated her differently from male police officers, denied her a woman’s uniform, insulted her and called her vulgar names to other officers.

Officer Sierra Fox (Photo/ West Union Police Department via Facebook)
Officer Sierra Fox (Photo/ West Union Police Department via Facebook)

Bechtold also told male officers to ignore Fox’s calls for emergency help, suggesting she was just being “dramatic,” the suit states.

“Failing to respond to a law enforcement officer’s call for emergency help is dangerous and puts the requesting officer’s life in imminent danger,” the lawsuit states.

The Gazette first reported on Fox’s claims April 12, one day after she said she was forced to resign as the K-9 officer for the West Union Police Department, a four-officer agency in a city of about 2,300.

West Union has so far let Fox keep Xena, a Dutch shepherd certified in drug detection, handler protection and tracking, until the city decides whether to continue its K-9 program.

Fox now is working part-time at the Marquette-McGregor Police Department, according to a May 9 post on the agency’s Facebook page.

Fox claims in the suit when she complained to West Union officials about discrimination and harassment, she faced retaliation, including an April 10 request from City Administrator Nick McIntyre that she resign or be fired.

In a recording of the April 10 meeting provided by Fox’s attorney, McIntyre cited a half-dozen incidents since March 27 in which Fox is alleged to have broken department rules. Fox disputed the write-ups and says they all were recorded since the complained about Bechtold’s alleged behavior.

In an interview April 12, McIntyre said he could not comment on Fox’s assertion she was being retaliated against for her complaints about Bechtold or whether her complaints are being investigated by the city.

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©2019 The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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