- Associated Press - Thursday, November 12, 2015

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - The University of Iowa has agreed to pay $166,000 as part of a separation agreement with a dental professor who had filed a discrimination complaint, the latest costly legal claim for the state’s flagship campus.

Under the agreement finalized last week, professor of orthodontics Andrew Lidral will assume a half-time appointment in January and then resign his tenured faculty position on July 31. Within 10 days of the resignation, the university will pay Lidral $143,000 and his attorney $23,000.

Lidral filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission last year alleging discrimination. The complaint is confidential, and his attorney Marc Mills declined to detail his client’s allegations. The commission hadn’t made any findings as to the merits of the claim before both sides reached the agreement, which avoids the possibility that Lidral would pursue a civil lawsuit.

The settlement comes amid a flurry of other legal developments. Last month, the university agreed to pay $150,000 to former study abroad director Janis Perkins, who alleged her position was improperly eliminated after she complained about being bullied and took leave for depression.

Last week, the athletic department’s former No. 2 administrator, Jane Meyer, filed a lawsuit alleging she was reassigned as part of a pattern of gender bias and retaliation. Meyer’s partner, former field hockey coach Tracey Griesbaum, is also pursuing legal action over her firing last year, and a federal investigation is looking into bias claims filed by Griesbaum’s former players.

Meanwhile, the university is in settlement talks with former assistant track coach Michael Scott, who contends he was repeatedly passed over for a job when the department mandated hiring a woman.

As for Lidral, Mills said that he and his client are “satisfied with the outcome of the resolution” to what he characterized as a unique employment dispute.

The Iowa Board of Regents posted the settlement online, as required by Gov. Terry Branstad. The university doesn’t admit any wrongdoing under the settlement and will provide Lidral a letter of reference saying that he resigned voluntarily. In addition, the university agreed not to make any oral or written statement about Lidral “which is intended or reasonably likely to criticize or disparate employee or otherwise degrade his reputation.”

According to his faculty biography, Lidral’s research focuses on identifying the genetic causes of craniofacial birth defects such as clefting. He earned a salary of $175,000 in the most recent fiscal year, according to a state salary database.

Lidral, who joined the college of dentistry in 2001, will maintain his current duties, including serving on the school’s admissions committee, lecturing and mentoring, until his resignation.

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