Jane Meyer, a former senior associate athletic director, sued the University of Iowa last week, alleging that she was demoted in retaliation for complaining about the termination of the field hockey coach in 2014. The coach, Tracy Griesbaum, is Meyer’s partner. As we have noted already on the blog, Griesbaum was fired last year after some of her players complained that she was verbally abusive, but Griesbaum and her supporters say that her termination reflects a double standard that punishes female coaches for behavior that is tolerated and even expected in men’s sports. The Office for Civil Rights is currently investigating whether Griesbaum’s termination violates Title IX.
Meyer, meanwhile, who had worked in Iowa’s athletics department since 2001,was transferred out of the department and reassigned to a job in facilities the very day after she presented the Athletic Director with a written complaint challenging the discrimination against female coaches and other women in the department. The university claims that her transfer was necessary to avoid a conflict that Meyer would have in the event that Griesbaum sued the Athletic Department (which hasn’t happened yet).
In addition to challenging the alleged retaliatory demotion, Meyer’s lawsuit also alleges that she was the victim of sex discrimination while she worked for the department when she was passed over for promotion to deputy director despite her qualifications for the job. She also alleges that she was paid substantially less than male administrators with comparable jobs.
Meyer’s lawsuit was filed in state court. Notably, Iowa’s employment discrimination law expressly covers discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Meyer reportedly seeks reinstatement to her former position, back pay to account for sex discrimination related to her salary, and an external review of the department’s demotion and hiring decisions.