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Former instructor suing Upper Iowa University for discrimination

FAYETTE, Iowa (KWWL) - A former instructor has filed a lawsuit against Upper Iowa University, saying one of her bosses made sexist remarks to her and that she was repeatedly demoted and eventually fired because she asked for an investigation.

Attorney Melissa Hasso filed the lawsuit in Fayette County court on March 9 on behalf of her client, 59-year-old Katherine Thomas. The lawsuit says Thomas was an instructor in the English Department from 1992 to 2020.

Thomas alleges she was mistreated by Dr. Douglas McReynolds, the chair of the English department. The lawsuit cites a handful of instances where McReynolds interacted with Thomas.

In one instance, McReynolds allegedly said, "I'm smarter than you because I'm a man." In another instance, McReynolds asked Thomas, “Are you PMSing or something?”

Thomas and her lawyers say that she complained to the university's human resources department in 2017 and 2018. In 2018, she was told she was no longer qualified to teach.

Attorney Hasso states Thomas was removed from a faculty position, and moved to the "Writer's Workshop Coordinator". She was furloughed in April 2020. She was fired while on furlough.

The university has declined to comment, saying it cannot comment on pending litigation.

According to court documents, Hasso filed for a trial scheduling on April 6 but it does not say if a date was set.

View the full lawsuit here:

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Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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