After over eight hours of deliberation (beginning around noon yesterday), a Polk County jury returned a verdict in the Jane Meyer trial: The University of Iowa, the Board of Regents, and the State of Iowa did retaliate, discriminate, provide unequal pay, and violate the whistleblower statute against former Iowa associate athletics director Jane Meyer.
Jury awards Jane Meyer $1.4 million in civil case, her legal team reports.— Erin Jordan (@erinfjordan) May 4, 2017
The defendant rested on Tuesday after calling one final witness: Liz Hollingworth, an associate professor at the University of Iowa College of Education and chair of the Presidential Committee on Athletics. Hollingworth recalled a time when Meyer apparently went lone wolf while she, herself, was a liaison to the Committee on Athletics:
Hollingworth said Meyer then confronted the coach. 'I was very disappointed,' she said, sought to get athletic staffers out of meetings— MarkEmmert (@MarkEmmert) May 2, 2017
Hollingworth testified that Meyer actively spoke out in favor of upgrades for field hockey facilities but not for other sports. Meyer also suggested potential coaches to hire:
Hollingworth also said Meyer gave her a list of four lesbian coaches that her committee needed to interview. She was taken aback by this— MarkEmmert (@MarkEmmert) May 2, 2017
The plaintiff called Meyer to the stand as a rebuttal witness. She testified about her limited job opportunities since she was reassigned from the Iowa Athletic Department and how she, along with Griesbaum, had moved to Des Moines and that she had applied for a couple of jobs: at Home Depot and Lowe’s.
At the close of evidence, the plaintiff filed a motion for a directed verdict (as a plaintiff usually does), asking for the court to rule in her favor on all four claims. The brief in support of this motion is below:
On Wednesday, the judge read the instructions to the jury and closing arguments were given by both parties. Some highlights from the plaintiff’s closing, delivered by Jill Zwagerman:
For example: Exaggerating Meyer's behavior, not following own policies. She noted that Meyer was told her transfer was not disciplinary— MarkEmmert (@MarkEmmert) May 3, 2017
Zwagerman: 'the only cloud that needed to be lifted from the athletic department was Gary Barta's discriminatory decision-making'— MarkEmmert (@MarkEmmert) May 3, 2017
Assistant Attorney General George Carroll delivered the closing on behalf of the defense. Some highlights:
He said that reassignment was in the works before Meyer's 12-4-14 memo to Barta; it was not retaliatory— MarkEmmert (@MarkEmmert) May 3, 2017
Carroll also said Meyer didn't complain when two previous lesbian coaches were fired, only when it was Griesbaum, her partner— MarkEmmert (@MarkEmmert) May 3, 2017
As I expected, Carroll highlighted the testimony of Jantz because she is gay. Carroll also pointed out that this case wasn’t about Tracey Griesbaum, it’s about Jane Meyer. Thomas Newkirk brought the hammer down for the plaintiff on rebuttal and I would summarize them but honestly, they just need to be posted:
He said the answer to all four was 'yes.' Also said he's not accusing Barta of being a 'serious homophobe,' but a 'politician'— MarkEmmert (@MarkEmmert) May 3, 2017
Said UI coaches' complaints against Meyer were because 'they're a bit of a prima donna' and their issues 'border on childish.'— MarkEmmert (@MarkEmmert) May 3, 2017
And with that, the case was off to the jury. Now, if you didn’t read the plaintiff’s brief in support of their motion for directed verdict, or you don’t recall how this whole thing started, Jane Meyer accused the defendants of doing five things:
- Retaliating against her in violation of the Iowa City Rights Act, by removing her from the Athletic Department while she was engaging in lawful activity (i.e: opposing workplace discrimination);
- Discriminating against her because she is a woman;
- Discriminating against her because she is gay;
- Paying her unequally, as Gene Taylor was hired to essentially do the same job at much higher pay; and
- Violating the Iowa whistleblower statute.
The jury had to decide on each of these matters, and they found in favor of Meyer on all five counts, per the verdict. We'll have more soon on what the next steps in this story could be.