DENVER– One of the highest ranking and highest paid women in the Denver Police Department has filed a Civil Rights Complaint against the City of Denver and its police department for gender discrimination.
41-year-old Magen Dodge claims she has been a victim of retaliation for speaking out against sexism she suffered under former Police Chief Robert White.
“I had the audacity to speak up and tell Chief White that some comments and things he had done were inappropriate and unwelcome and needed to stop,” said Dodge in an exclusive interview with the Problem Solvers.
At age 34, Magen Dodge was the youngest person Denver Police ever promoted to Commander when she took over District 3 in 2012. “I was busy all the time. I loved it,” said Dodge.
New Police Chief Paul Pazen reassigned her last summer to be a liaison at the Colorado Information Analysis Center, where she has a one person office in Lakewood, the only DPD employee who doesn’t work in Denver.
Her discrimination charge filed with the Colorado Civil Rights Division calls her new position “an effective demotion” and notes “the position sat vacant for over a year and was last held by a sergeant.”
At District 3, Dodge managed 181 employees. Now she oversees no one, a commander in title and salary only, “A complete and absolute marginalization of me. I`m the only commander who has no employees, No employees,” said an incredulous Dodge.
She’s still paid $160,000 dollars a year but admits she doesn’t feel good about it, “I’ve tried to insert myself in different places with in the C.I.A.C. and they have been very gracious and I’m waiting at some point for them to get a restraining order because I am trying to find anything of value to do that I can offer with my background,” said Dodge.
According to her complaint, the 21-year veteran of the department felt her career started going downhill in 2017 when she she stood up for an “openly LGBTQ Lieutenant” facing investigation by Internal Affairs for an administrative matter where the gay man felt he was being treated differently because of his sexual orientation.
“You’d better be careful,” is what Chief White allegedly warned Commander Dodge when she shared her employee’s concerns. Soon thereafter, Dodge says Chief White told her he went to a certain gym because “He liked the scenery of the mommy’s” making him “very motivated to get a good workout.”
Then in a staff meeting, Dodge said Chief White singled her out in front of others joking she should prostitute herself at an upcoming police function, “Told me I needed to earn at a hotel where this dinner was, earn the department $50,000 dollars and when I was done I could go home.”
Also, in her civil rights complaint, Commander Dodge alleges Chief White, “had previously suggested to me that I get ‘knocked up’ by a specific billionaire to get”set” monetarily for the next 18 years. I confronted Chief White and told him his comments were sexist and that I was offended. I was later told I was ’emotional’ and ‘immature’ and not ready for the next step of Deputy Chief.”
“I believe there is absolute collusion coming together to protect, protect those in power,” said Dodge who feels Chief Pazen took the Chief’s job with the tacit understanding from Public Safety Director Troy Riggs (who has a friendship with former Chief White that dates back to their time together in Louisville, KY) to sideline Megan Dodge.
When Chief White became the focus of an open records investigation in 2017, Dodge told city investigators she didn’t want to participate because she feared retaliation.
“I told them it is career ending for women,” remember Dodge. At the time, the city did open a new investigation into Chief White for possibly creating a hostile workplace based on Dodge’s comments.
When Chief White announced his retirement in April of 2018, he told FOX31 regarding the hostile workplace complaint, “Tell your Investigative Team not to be so judgmental. Wait until the facts come out. I’m very comfortable that they will be resolved in my favor.”
He was right. The City of Denver would ultimately clear Chief White of any wrong-doing both for the Open Records case and for supposedly creating a hostile workplace for Magen Dodge.
But that outcome is exactly what Dodge and her employment attorney Paula Greisen predicted.
“Then why not give us the documents? We’ve asked for the documents. We hear complete silence,” said Greisen, referring to the city’s internal investigation of Chief White and the hostile workplace complaint.
Greisen said it’s time for Denver to hold itself accountable, “Stop retaliating against individuals who make valid complaints. We want Commander Dodge back in full service to the city as she should be.”
Dodge said her Civil Rights Complaint is about accountability, “In law enforcement we are supposed to be standing up. We’re supposed to be protectors of justice and equality, everything that is good. And you can`t just sit down and be quiet, especially in a leadership role.”
A spokesman for the Denver Police Department tells FOX31 it wouldn’t be appropriate for police department or the City of Denver to comment now that Dodge has filed a Civil Rights Complaint with the state of Colorado.
It’s worth noting that Megan Dodge asked the Office of the Independent Monitor to review her case involving hostile treatment and sexism but as the Problem Solvers first reported months ago the Department of Public Safety refused to allow the OIM to participate.
Public Safety Director Troy Riggs told FOX31 the City Charter doesn’t allow the Independent Monitor to review investigations into Mayoral appointees like the Police Chief or the Sheriff, even though the OIM had been allowed to participate in such cases under former Public Safety Director Stephanie O’Malley.
Dodge’s Civil Rights Complaint is considered a legal precursor to a federal lawsuit.
If the Colorado Civil Rights Division finds merit to Dodge’s complaint she will likely receive a “right to sue” letter allowing to file a federal lawsuit later in 2019.