A tangled legal web involving a former longtime administrator at the University of Iowa just got a lot more — well, tangled.
Jane Meyer, the Hawkeyes’ senior associate athletic director from 2001 until her reassignment out of the department in 2014, this week asked a judge to file an injunction that would prevent the university from going through with its plans to fire her effective September 9. She’s also suing the school for gender and sexual orientation discrimination, as explained by TheGazette.com:
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.
Meyer was Iowa’s senior women’s administrator at the time of Griesbaum’s firing, which raised several questions, not least of which involved potential conflicts of interest. Long story short, Hawkeyes field hockey players had complained about the coach, accusing her of verbal abuse and of forcing them to play through injuries. A former Iowa faculty adviser said parents of field hockey players had been afraid to address their concerns because of the coach’s relationship with Meyer.
Griesbaum later sued the school, alleging wrongful termination, and athletic director Gary Barta reassigned Meyer from athletics to the university’s Facilities Management department, citing advice from the Iowa attorney general’s office. In April 2015, Meyer was named project manager and logistical strategist for Iowa’s school of liberal arts and sciences. More from TheGazette.com:
“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.
As noted in TheGazette.com’s story, Meyer sued the university, the board of regents and the state last November. With a jury trial scheduled for next April, there may be more legal twists yet to come.