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Nationwide Representation in Legal and Disciplinary Actions Under Title IX
New Title IX Regulations Are In Effect.
See What Changed in 2020
Our highly knowledgeable Title IX and Conduct Code lawyers passionately believe that every individual, regardless of their gender, deserves the right to benefit from the full and equal opportunities afforded to students and employees by every educational institution in the United States. That’s why she tirelessly represents those whose legal rights are denied in the context of Title IX.
Though it is most often associated with athletics, Title IX also affords protection from a range of harms from sexual harassment and assault to employment discrimination.
If you believe your Title IX rights have been violated, whether you’ve been accused or you are a victim, don’t hesitate to call our highly experienced Title IX and Conduct Code attorneys at Duffy Law, LLC at 203-946-2000 as soon as possible to discuss your situation.
Specifically, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq.) prohibits discrimination against individuals on the basis of sex in educational institutions that receive federal funds of any kind. Such institutions include colleges and universities, local school districts, and for-profit and charter schools. Additionally, Title IX applies to federally funded educational programs at museums, libraries, prisons, and other institutions.
The heart of Title IX reads : “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program receiving Federal financial assistance…”
Rights Under Title IX
Students and employees have many different rights under Title IX, including rights that prohibit gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and unlawful retaliation. Gender discrimination can occur against females, males, and transgender individuals. Further, section (a)(8) of the act also extends protections to students who are also parents, meaning that if a school provides mother-daughter services or activities to it students or staff, it should provide comparable father-son opportunities (and visa versa).
Potentially unlawful retaliation under the act includes any type of adverse treatment in response to reporting potentially unlawful discrimination or harassment. Examples of adverse retaliatory treatment against students can include the following:
- Denial of permission to participate on an athletic team, a reduction in the amount of playing time, or change to a less-desirable position on the team
- Reduction in grades in academic courses
- Harassment or other mistreatment on the athletic field or in the classroom
- Suspension or expulsion from a program or from the institution.
In addition to students, employees can also suffer from unlawful retaliation, including:
- Harassment or mistreatment from supervisors or administrators
- A decrease in pay
- Material change in job duties
- Refusal by the employer to provide a positive job reference.
Are All Schools Covered Under Title IX?
Almost. Title IX only applies to universities and educational institutions that receive federal funds. However, the vast majority of educational institutions in the country, including both public and private universities, receive some sort of federal funding. For private institutions, this is typically in the form of federal financial-aid programs or student loans taken out by the universities’ attendees.
Common Title IX Cases
If you believe you are a victim of unlawful sex discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, Title IX gives you the right to file a civil action against the institution. In addition, a teacher or coach may pursue legal action against their school for discriminatory policies or acts it commits against students. Some of the actions commonly filed involve the following issues:
- Sexual assault and harassment
- Inequitable treatment or funding of athletic programs and opportunities
- Pregnancy discrimination
- Employment discrimination
- Opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) or career technical education (CTE)
- Disparate disciplinary policies based on gender
Title IX & Sexual Violence
While Title IX is most commonly associated with obvious acts of discrimination based on gender, the act also provides protections for victims of sexual violence or sexual harassment. In fact, the Department of Education has stated that if a college or university fails to appropriately respond to allegations of sexual violence or harassment, the university/college may be in violation of Title IX laws. Guidelines issued by the Department of Education require education institutions to:
- Hire and maintain a coordinator who is responsible for investigating allegations of sexual assault;
- Maintain a written policy that details the investigation process when claims of sexual violence or harassment are made; and
- Provide reasonable accommodations to persons claiming to be victims of sexual assault, including, but not limited to, housing changes, class schedule changes, and counseling.
Under these guidelines, a university has a strong duty to its students to prevent sexual assault and discrimination and to take meaningful action if allegations of sexual assault or harassment are made. Unfortunately, the process does not always play out as it should; there have been hundreds of instances of universities failing to properly investigate claims of sexual assault or discrimination in the past, with many of these educational facilities facing investigations by the Department of Education for Title IX violation as a result.
Who We Represent
We represent anyone who believes that their rights under Title IX have been violated. This includes:
- Student defendants who have been accused of sexual assault or/and a violation of the educational institution’s code of conduct. We help these students and their families navigate the school’s complex disciplinary investigation and hearing procedures.
- Students who bring a claim against another student, staff member, or the university and believe that their claim is being (or has been) improperly investigated or handled. Often, these persons are re-traumatized during the investigative process, and may suffer psychological injuries when the defendant is determined to be “not responsible.”
- Faculty and staff members who make a claim of sexual harassment or discrimination against an educational institution in an employment context (i.e., denial of promotion due to gender or sexual identity). Students who also work as Teaching Assistants and in related positions are considered employees under Title IX.
- Coaches, players, and other parties who file a claim against an educational institution in an athletic context (for example, female players who are denied access to training facilities, or female coaches who are paid less than male coaches).
This list is not inclusive. Anyone who is in an educational institution setting and believes that they are the victim of sexual discrimination may bring a claim under Title IX. Contact our law firm today to discuss the specifics of your case in detail and learn more about your rights.
Once a complaint of harassment or sexual assault has been made by one student against another, schools almost always begin an often-complex disciplinary process. Investigations, hearings, sanction boards, student panels and administrators all get involved to determine if the school’s Code of Conduct has been violated by any party; and penalties from loss of student housing, to full-year suspensions to expulsion are common when a student is found “responsible” for a violation. Duffy Law regularly defends students accused of such violations.
Summary of 2020 Changes to Title Investigations
|Schools must investigate any possible violation of Title IX immediately when an employee (with certain confidential exceptions like a therapist or doctor) knows or has any reason to know about a possible violation.
|School are only required to investigate after a formal complaint has been filed that requests that the school investigate the allegations of sexual misconduct.
|Complainants could bring Title IX complaints even if they were no longer a student or affiliated with the school.
|Complainants must be participating in or attempting to participate in a school’s education program or activity to bring a formal complaint.
|Interim measures could be imposed on a respondent, such as suspension, based on a complaint of sexual misconduct before any investigation
|No negative interim measures may be imposed on a respondent until after the conclusion of the investigation and hearing and the respondent is found responsible for the violations (unless there is a demonstrated threat to a student).
|Schools were not permitted to use mediation (restorative justice) to resolve sexual assault cases.
|Colleges are permitted to use mediation and restorative justice practices throughout the process until a final determination has been made (unless the respondent is an employee and the complainant is a student).
|Schools had jurisdiction over sexual misconduct cases that occurred in campus programs or activities on campus property, or occurred elsewhere but had an effect on the complainant’s education.
|Schools no longer have jurisdiction over conduct that occurs outside the US (such as study abroad program) and only have jurisdiction over conduct that occurs in school activities or programs or on school property.
|Schools were permitted to restrict parties from talking to others including witnesses during a Title IX process.
|Colleges may not restrict a party’s ability to talk with others and discuss the allegations and to gather and present evidence (except a “no-contact” order between the complainant and respondent is permitted).
|Schools did not need to provide the parties with notice of the timing and purpose of all meetings, investigative interviews, and hearings.
|Schools must provide the parties with written notice of the timing and purpose of all meetings, investigative interviews, and hearings with sufficient time for the party to prepare to participate.
|Schools were not required to provide the report to the student in hard copy or electronic form or to the advisor at all.
|Schools are required to provide the report to the student and the advisor in hard copy or electronic form.
|Schools were not required to permit parties to respond to a report.
|School must permit the parties to respond in writing to the report after the school has sent the investigative report to the parties and before reaching a determination regarding responsibility and must allow at least ten days for the parties to respond.
|Schools had no minimum time before a Hearing to send the final report.
|Schools are required to send the final report at least ten days before a Hearing.
|Schools were not required to permit parties to ask questions of parties or witnesses at any time.
|After sending a report and before reaching a determination about responsibility, schools must permit each party to submit written, relevant questions that a party wants asked of any party or witness, provide each party with the answers, and allow for follow-up questions from each party.
|Schools were permitted to conclude investigations and make findings of responsibility without a hearing and without permitting either party to ask questions of the other party.
|Colleges and universities are required to have a live hearing and must permit each party’s advisor (lawyer) to cross examine the other party and the witnesses orally and in real time. (If a party does not have an advisor, the school must provide one without cost).
|Schools were permitted to question parties and witnesses without a hearing and without either party being present and could use and rely on party and witness statements.
|School may not use a witnesses’ or party’s statements unless they testify at a hearing.
|Schools were not required to record a hearing or make the recording available to the parties.
|Schools are required to record a live hearing and to make the recording available to the parties.
|Schools could offer informal resolutions only before making a formal complaint.
|Schools may not offer an informal resolution unless a formal complaint has been filed.
|Schools were required to use the preponderance of evidence standard and could only use the clear and convincing evidence standard if the school used clear and convincing for all other conduct code violations.
|Schools have the option to use the preponderance of evidence or clear and convincing evidence standard for Title IX cases.
|A school was required to continue with an investigation and process to reach a final determination even if:
|A school may dismiss a formal complaint or allegations if:
|Schools were permitted to have its Title IX coordinator or investigator be the final decision maker regarding responsibility.
|Schools must issue a written determination about responsibility by a decisionmaker who is someone other than the Title IX coordinator or investigator.
|Schools were not required to offer an appeal of anything.
|Schools must offer both parties an appeal from a determination regarding responsibility and from a school’s dismissal of a formal complaint on the following grounds:
|Decision makers for the appeal were not restricted.
|Decision makers for the appeal cannot be:
How to File a Title IX Complaint
Students who bring a complaint that their rights have been violated in some way covered by Title IX will typically first bring their complaint to a school official in the relevant office (e.g., student life, campus security, athletic department, etc). If their complaint is dismissed out of hand or otherwise not handled properly, that’s when an experienced Title IX lawyer can help advise them of their rights and next steps. Conversely, accused students (also known as “respondents”) who feel the school did not comply with Title IX law in conducting a fair investigation and hearing process may have additional options which a Title IX attorney can help them with.
Taking a IX Complaint to the Next Level
If you are desire to pursue a Title IX complaint beyond your school due the school’s response to your initial claim, you will send your complaint to your regional Office for Civil Rights (OCR) within the US Department of Education. It is important that you meet the following criteria when filing your complaint.
- You must file your complaint with 180 days’ time from the date of the discrimination (which may not necessarily be the date that an act of sexual assault or harassment took place, if discrimination is based on failure to investigate this act); and
- Your complaint must contain all relevant information related to the complaint, including:
- The name of the educational institution
- The date of incident
- Details of the discrimination
- Your name, address, and telephone number, and
- As much information as possible about the discriminatory act.
You can read more about filing a complaint, and access a complaint form, on the website of the U.S. Department of Education.
What Happens to a School if It Is Found Guilty of a Title IX Violation?
If a school is found to be in violation of a Title IX violation, it will be required to address and fix the condition that led to the complaint in the first place. It may lose all or part of its federal funding. In some cases, depending upon the extent of the violation, a claimant may also be able to bring civil charges against the defendant for compensation for losses.
Schedule a Consultation with a Nationwide Title IX Lawyer Today
Understanding the federal statutes and the fast-changing regulations that make up Title IX can be extremely confusing, and knowing your rights and how to protect them can be overwhelming. When you believe that you are the victim of a Title IX violation, working with an attorney is in your best interest. Our highly knowledgeable attorneys have extensive experience with Title IX actions and are passionate about protecting the equal rights of all students and employees – female, male, and transgender — under the law. You can discuss your situation with a Duffy Law, LLC attorney by calling 203-946-2000.