Judge rules Iowa can dismiss Jane Meyer

Mark Emmert

The University of Iowa can terminate the employment of a longtime athletic department official who is suing the school, a district court judge ruled Friday.

Jane Meyer, who has worked at the university since 2001, will lose her job Sept. 9, as she was notified in June. Meyer’s attorney, Jill Zwagerman, had sought an injunction to prevent that dismissal, arguing for protection under Iowa’s “whistleblower” statute. Assistant attorney general George Carroll claimed that statute doesn’t apply in this case because Meyer’s original lawsuit, filed in November, accuses the university of violating her civil rights and does not mention the whistleblower law, Iowa Code 70A.28.

Judge Michael Huppert, who heard arguments at the Polk County Courthouse Friday morning, agreed with Carroll.

Jane Meyer's 15-year tenure at the University of Iowa will end Sept. 9.

“The logical trade-off or prerequisite for such protection is the filing of an action alleging a violation of 70A.28(2),” Huppert wrote. “In the undisputed absence of such an action in the present case, the plaintiff’s request for injunctive relief must fail.”

Meyer was hired to be the top-ranking female athletics administrator at Iowa and served in that role until December 2014, when she was reassigned by athletic director Gary Barta. Barta said he made that move because Meyer’s partner, Tracey Griesbaum, was suing the university for wrongful termination and discrimination. Barta fired Griesbaum, the school’s longtime field hockey coach, in August 2014.

Meyer has since worked in the university’s facilities management department and, since April 2015, in its College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She was earning $173,000 per year. She filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination lawsuit by the university in November after she said previous accusations of gender and sexual orientation bias were not investigated by Barta or the Iowa Board of Regents.

That lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial April 17.