University of Iowa will lay off lesbian who sued for discrimination

University of Iowa campus

University of Iowa campus publicity photo

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The University of Iowa is planning to lay off a former top athletic administrator who is suing the school for gender discrimination and retaliation, the school confirmed Wednesday.

Iowa has informed former senior associate athletic director Jane Meyer that her position as a project manager will be eliminated Sept. 9, saying it is no longer necessary.

Meyer’s attorney, Jill Zwagerman, went to court Wednesday seeking an injunction to block the termination from taking effect. Zwagerman argued that the layoff was further retaliation for Meyer’s complaints about unequal pay and treatment of women and lesbians in the athletics department and went back on previous promises that she’d remain employed.

The university said it would resist the injunction and denied discrimination and retaliation.

The dispute is the latest in a messy personnel situation that has contributed to two lawsuits and an ongoing federal civil rights investigation of Iowa’s athletics department.

It dates to August 2014, when athletic director Gary Barta abruptly fired longtime successful women’s field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum shortly before the season began. Meyer is Griesbaum’s longtime partner. Griesbaum has denied the university’s allegations that she bullied players and has sued the school, alleging she faced bias as a gay female coach.

After Griesbaum gave notice that she planned to sue, the university reassigned Meyer to a job outside of the athletics department, where she had been the senior woman’s administrator since 2001. Barta said that Meyer could not work in the department while her partner pursued legal action and that Meyer’s leave would continue until Griesbaum’s case was resolved.

The reassignment came one day after Meyer sent Barta a letter alleging that she was “being targeted and discriminated against” because she is a gay woman. Meyer noted that a newly-hired male administrator, deputy athletic director Gene Taylor, was given a much higher salary even though he performed many of the duties Meyer did previously.

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