Newkirk and Bates, in their trial brief in Polk’s case, said former Department of Administrative Services director Mollie Anderson testified in a deposition that Mallory was fired in 2006 after a review by then-Gov. Tom Vilsack’s administration uncovered concerns of racism and other problems under Mallory’s management. Mallory has called racism allegations against her “absolutely ridiculous,” and other state officials have said Mallory was fired for other reasons.
She is a leading figure in the cases, with Newkirk and Bates arguing that she routinely manipulated the state’s merit system rules in ways that opened up jobs for whites, limited opportunities for blacks and punished those who filed complaints.
The Iowa attorney general’s office says race was never a factor in Polk’s employment decisions. Assistant Iowa Attorney General Tyler Smith argued that Polk’s attorneys failed to show she was a competent mailroom clerk.
Polk started working in 2003 as a temporary clerk in Mallory’s office, applied for a full-time position two years later and was deemed highly qualified. But Mallory later sent a letter saying she would not be considered for the job because she failed to properly submit her resume. Polk claims she was shocked because she had hand-delivered her application to Mallory’s secretary.
When Polk confronted Mallory about what happened and asked questions about the hiring process, she claims that Mallory responded, “You people think you get special privilege.” Polk says she later learned a white male from a staffing agency was hired to fill the position on a temporary basis.
Polk filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. Months later, she was fired after a review found she did not meet performance expectations and “disrespectfully challenges authority.”