Dubuque To Pay $1.8M To Settle Police Discrimination Lawsuit

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — The city of Dubuque will pay more than $1.8 million to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit brought by a former police captain who accused the city and police chief of fostering a culture of sexism in the department.

The city does not admit any wrongdoing in approving the settlement, which goes to Abby Simon and her lawyers, the Telegraph Herald reported Tuesday.

Simon said in her lawsuit that she was passed over in 2016 and 2017 for promotion to captain, despite having received better test and interview scores than the men who were promoted. Simon was promoted to captain in 2018 after filing a complaint, but said she faced hostility from fellow officers and Chief Mark Dalsing.

That included an email Dalsing sent to colleagues lamenting that the department was “forced” to create a new captain’s position for Simon after she complained of discrimination, the lawsuit said. Simon said City Manager Mike Van Milligen also asked her "whether she had thought about the long-term consequences if she sued the city.”

Simon was the highest-ranking woman in the department when she retired in January 2020, citing what she said was City Council members’ refusal to hold Dalsing and Van Milligen accountable.

In court filings, Dalsing and the city denied Simon’s claims. Dalsing did not immediately return phone and email messages left Tuesday morning by The Associated Press seeking comment. Van Milligen declined to comment.

Attorneys for the city, Mayor Roy Buol and other city officials declined to comment on the settlement to the Telegraph Herald.