116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The University of Iowa and Board of Regents have settled a lawsuit with a former program director who alleged gender, age and pay discrimination after she was fired in 2017 and replaced with a younger man paid more money.
Pam Ries, 65, led the REACH, or Realizing Educational and Career Hopes, program from 2013 until June 2017, when Dan Clay, dean of the UI College of Education, gave her the choice of retiring from the position or being fired, Ries said in a 2018 lawsuit.
REACH, started in 2008, is a two-year certificate program for students with disabilities that include autism, intellectual disabilities and learning disabilities. Students get campus-life experience and career preparation in the program that is unique at major public universities in the U.S., the UI reported in 2018.
The suit says Clay called Ries in for a meeting June 28, 2017, citing “problems’” in the program the previous year without any examples.
“At the time she was fired, UI REACH was fiscally sound, well-respected, and the program was growing,” the lawsuit states.
Along with the lawsuit, Ries filed a Feb. 3, 2017, letter from then-UI President Bruce Harreld, who thanked her for her “time and commitment” to REACH, which had just been featured on KCRG-TV9 news.
After demoting Ries to a teaching position that paid $100,000 less, the UI started searching for a new REACH director, the suit states. Ries applied for the position but was passed over.
The UI hired Bill Loyd Jr. in October 2018. Ries's suit says Loyd was younger and less experienced than Ries and was paid $25,000 more than she was paid as REACH director.
The settlement for an undisclosed amount of money halts preparations for a jury trial next week in Polk County District Court. The decision comes after 5th Judicial District Judge Lawrence McLellan on Nov. 22 denied the UI’s and Regents’ motion for summary judgment to dismiss some of Ries’ claims.
“The court concludes that defendants have not met their burden and there are genuine issues of material fact such that defendants are not entitled to judgment as a matter of law,” McLellan wrote.
Attorneys in the case have 60 days to conclude the settlement and file for dismissal of the case, records state. After that, the UI will make settlement agreement -- including the amount of money -- public at https://settlements-regents.sws.iastate.edu/list/3/2022.
Comments: (319) 339-3157; email@example.com