Higher education

Jane Meyer files federal lawsuit against University of Iowa, officials

Former athletics official says her First Amendment rights were violated

Senior Associate Director of Athletics Jane Meyer gives a tour of the new Indoor Practice and Recreation Facility Wednesday, June 27, 2012 on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City. The 102,000 square foot facility features a 100 yard football field, 4 batting cages, at 6,000 square feet of storage and will be available for practices on August third. (Brian Ray/The Gazette-KCRG)
Senior Associate Director of Athletics Jane Meyer gives a tour of the new Indoor Practice and Recreation Facility Wednesday, June 27, 2012 on the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City. The 102,000 square foot facility features a 100 yard football field, 4 batting cages, at 6,000 square feet of storage and will be available for practices on August third. (Brian Ray/The Gazette-KCRG)

IOWA CITY — A former University of Iowa associate athletics director, already suing the university in state court, filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday asserting her First Amendment rights and gender rights were violated.

Jane Meyer, who worked in the UI Athletics Department from 2001 to 2014, is using the suit filed in U.S. District Court’s Southern Iowa District to challenge what she describes as the university’s wrongful employment practices.

“Her First Amendment rights to associate with her partner were violated when the University of Iowa took steps to remove her from the Athletic Department, then fire her,” the suit states.

Meyer also asserts her rights under Title IX, a federal gender equity law, were violated when the UI fired her after bringing forward concerns of gender equity in the Athletic Department.

Meyer complained to Athletic Director Gary Barta in a Dec. 4, 2014, memo about his treatment of women in the department. Barta had fired Tracey Griesbaum, Meyer’s long-term partner, from her position as head field hockey coach in August 2014.

Barta fired Griesbaum after an internal investigation reported several field hockey players complained Griesbaum was verbally abusive and pressured them to compete while injured. Other student-athletes and alumna disputed these statements and supported the ousted coach.

Days after Meyer’s memo to Barta, he announced the UI was transferring her out of her job as a senior associate athletics director to UI Facilities Management, the suit states. The UI said then the shift was recommended by the UI’s general counsel’s office because of an anticipated lawsuit by Griesbaum.

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In April 2015, Meyer was moved to become project manager and logistical strategist for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. On Sept. 9, Meyer’s position was eliminated.

Meyer sued the UI, Iowa Board of Regents and the state in November 2015 alleging gender and sexual orientation discrimination. That case is set for trial April 17 in Polk County.

The UI has denied discriminating against Meyer.

l Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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