Fired lesbian athletics director wins seven-figure sum from university
A lesbian university athletics director has won $1.43 million in a discrimination case brought against the university which fired her.
Jane Meyer, 57, sued the University of Iowa after she went from being the highest-ranking woman in the athletics department to being reassigned and then sacked in quick succession.
The jury found in her favour on all counts of sexual orientation, gender discrimination, retaliation and whistleblower violations, and unequal pay, according to the Des Moines Register.
The former senior associate athletic director accused her boss Gary Barta of forcing her out because she was a lesbian and outspoken about gender inequality in his department.
In August 2014, Barta hired a man to carry out many of her duties for $70,000 more than her annual salary of $176,000.
After her victory, Meyer told reporters the case was “a matter of standing up to say: ‘This is bigger, and we need the university to be better.'”
She added: “This is for everyone and anyone who has fought discrimination.”
“It’s much bigger than Jane Meyer.”
The Iowa Attorney General’s Office, which defended the state during the case, referred comment to the university, who gave out a one-sentence statement.
It read: “The university is disappointed by the jury’s decision.”
Meyer’s attorneys will still be seeking around $2 million more from the judge, a sum which includes her legal fees and a tripling of the $374,000 which she has been awarded in back pay.
The law in Iowa allows Meyer to ask a judge to triple the award because jurors reportedly found the university’s actions were “willful.”
Her attorneys said they expected the university to appeal the verdict.
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Meyer attorney Tom Newkirk added that his client would also like to return to her job at the university, which a judge could order as relief in the case.
“The question is whether or not she can do it safely,” he said. “I don’t know, does Mr Barta need to leave?”
Barta also fired Meyer’s partner, Tracey Griesbaum, from her position as field hockey coach after what he said was a pattern of reports of abusive behaviour toward students.
A university inquiry into these allegations found no policy violations.
Griesbaum’s lawsuit for wrongful termination is set to begin on June 5.