Iowa athletics staffer files discrimination suit vs school

AP News
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Posted: Nov 04, 2015 5:36 PM

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Former Iowa senior associate athletic director Jane Meyer has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the university, claiming athletic director Gary Barta attempted to derail her career.

Meyer filed suit Tuesday in Polk County district court claiming wage, sexual orientation and gender discrimination as well as retaliation. The suit also names the Iowa Board of Regents and the state of Iowa.

Meyer's attorney, Jill Zwagerman, said Meyer was reassigned last December to a position "well beneath her experience and pay grade." The move one week after Meyer delivered a written memo to Barta detailing what she said was a pattern of discrimination and bias against female coaches and athletes.

"In an attempt to silence her, Gary Barta and the university retaliated by derailing her career and removing her from the job she loves," Zwagerman said.

The university, through spokesman Jeneane Beck, responded to the suit with a statement to The Associated Press that said that it "did not discriminate or retaliate against Jane Meyer."

Iowa said at the time of Meyer's reassignment that she couldn't remain in the athletic department because her partner, former Hawkeyes field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum, intended to sue the school for discrimination.

The Hawkeyes said they reassigned Meyer to a position outside the athletic department after consulting with the state's assistant attorney general. The school also disputes Meyer's description of her new role as a project manager in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, saying Meyer is receiving the same salary she was prior to the move.

Iowa said Meyer will remain outside the athletic department until its situation with Griesbaum is resolved. Griesbaum has yet to file a lawsuit against the school.

Barta fired Griesbaum just weeks before the 2014 season after the university investigated allegations that Griesbaum harassed and bullied players.

The investigation did not substantiate policy violations but raised concerns about an environment of "fear, intimidation and/or mistreatment" by Griesbaum. The school paid Griesbaum a $200,000 buyout.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights notified the university in May that it is investigating the handling of gender bias complaints against Barta involving his treatment of female coaches and athletes — an investigation that arose from a complaint filed by four of Griesbaum's former players. Zwagerman said Griesbaum is cooperating with that investigation, the outcome of which will likely determine her next move.

"I think the University of Iowa is better than this," Zwagerman said. "They have a long history of being on the cutting edge of gender issues and things like that, and they've really taken a step back."