University of Iowa plans to fire Jane Meyer
Former athletics official files for court injunction to stop termination
IOWA CITY — A former University of Iowa Athletics official suing the UI for gender and sexual orientation discrimination is asking a judge to stop the university from firing her.
Jane Meyer filed a motion Monday in Polk County District Court seeking an injunction to halt the UI’s plans to eliminate her job Sept. 9. She is paid $176,617 this year.
“The purpose of this letter is to notify you your at-will position with the University of Iowa is being terminated effective September 9, 2016,” wrote Kevin Ward, interim vice president for human resources administration, in a June 9 letter to Meyer included with the injunction request.
Meyer asserted in December 2014 that the UI transferred her out of her job as a senior associate athletics director as retaliation for her complaints about gender discrimination in the department after her partner, Tracey Griesbaum, was fired Aug. 4, 2014, from her position as head field hockey coach.
UI Athletics Director Gary Barta reassigned Meyer in December 2014 because of an anticipated wrongful termination suit by Griesbaum. Barta said the Iowa Attorney General’s Office advised him to shift Meyer out of the department until the matters are resolved.
Meyer was moved to UI Facilities Management to “assist with construction contract quality and project compliance management” of non-athletic building projects, the UI said then.
In April 2015, Meyer was shifted to become project manager and logistical strategist for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Meyer hoped the UI would eventually move her back to the Athletics Department, states a brief supporting the injunction request.
“However, it is clear that the University had no intention of returning Ms. Meyer to her prior position, they merely wanted to create a time gap between Ms. Meyer’s whistle-blowing and her termination in order to avoid any further retaliation allegations,” the brief states.
Ward’s June 9 letter said Meyer’s new job was always considered temporary and would end in June 2016. But a Dec. 10, 2014, letter from Ward uses the word “interim” rather than temporary to describe the job and says the duration of reassignment is unknown “and will be reassessed as appropriate.”
Ward told Meyer June 9 her help transitioning the School of Music to the new Voxman Music Building and studio arts into the new Visual Arts Building won’t be needed after Aug. 31.
“Your assistance with the logistics of this complex move have been appreciated,” Ward wrote.
UI officials said Wednesday they will resist Meyer’s attempt to keep her job.
“The University did not retaliate against Ms. Meyer with her reassignment nor with her notice of termination,” spokeswoman Jeneane Beck wrote.
“The flood recovery projects involving Ms. Meyer, initially expected to end in June, are now expected to be completed by the beginning of the fall semester. With the work concluding, the university, per UI Policy, has provided three months’ notice in written communication advising Ms. Meyer of the end of her at-will position. The letter encourages Ms. Meyer to apply for new positions at the University of Iowa, and offers the type of assistance given to UI employees whose position is ending.”
Meyer sued the UI, Iowa Board of Regents and the state in November, alleging gender and sexual orientation discrimination. A jury trial is scheduled for April 17.
Griesbaum sued the UI and state for wrongful termination March 7. That trial is set for June 6 in Polk County.