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Protecting Your Rights Against Retaliation Due to a Title IX Complaint

  • Case Results
  • Testimonials
  • List of Schools

Case Results

Here are some representative results we’ve achieved for our clients.

Female complainant’s rights, health, and safety protected throughout lengthy proceedings

Our client was sexually assaulted by a male student acquaintance. We became involved to support our client in getting proper medical treatment, preserving and collecting evidence and witness testimony, and securing therapeutic support. We helped her understand and navigate the many complex options available to her, including a criminal complaint, an informal complaint process, a formal complaint process, or doing nothing. We guided her through the informal process and then the formal process, including interviews with various school and law enforcement officials, and worked closely with the school to put in place appropriate accommodations ensuring that all interviews and hearings did not retraumatize her. The male student was found responsible and was expelled.

Large private university

Witness to sexual violence protected from intimidation

We represented a female witness to a dating violence case on campus who was being pressured to speak with the police and the school investigators about a violent matter she had witnessed on her dorm floor. We immediately communicated on her behalf to the local police, school administrators, and the Title IX investigators to protect her right to choose to not testify and ensure her safety on campus. She was very relieved not to be pressured by the school, the title IX office or the police to attend the hearing and testify about fellow students.

Small private college

Investigation of sexual assault complaint concludes with no charges filed

Our client contacted us immediately upon receiving notice by his school that a claim of sexual assault was made against him by a female student. We assisted him in preparing his detailed answer to the complaint, and then prepared him and accompanied him to his interview with the campus safety police officers. We worked with the school Title IX administrators and helped our client find evidence to show inconsistencies with the complaint. The complainant withdrew her complaint when presented with these inconsistencies and then recanted. The investigation ended and our client was not charged with anything.

Midsized private college

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Client Testimonials

"I am writing to let any college student who gets accused of something serious by their school know that they need a lawyer like Felice Duffy to defend them.  I was accused of something terrible by a student that I would never do and didn’t do.  Even though I knew exactly what actually happened, I was very scared that my university might not find me innocent. It was terrifying to think that I might lose my full basketball scholarship or could have been suspended or expelled and that me and my family’s name could have gotten a horrible reputation.

I can’t even put into words how I excited I was when I got the letter from the school that cleared me completely of the charges against me and I have Felice to thank for that 100%. Since I’m not in Connecticut, Felice and her investigator used video conferencing to interview me and my witnesses, talk with my parents, and get me fully prepared for every meeting I had with my school.  They got all my texts and email that proved my innocence and organized them perfectly for the Dean and the discipline committee.

Felice was always very direct and respectful even though the subject matter was very personal, and she was always ahead of the school in terms of getting me and them important information at every step.  It was like having the best scouting report ever." Felice obviously knows her stuff but she also deeply cares.  You can tell that she loves the work she’s doing to help college kids in really difficult situations."

College Sophomre, Colorado

“I hired Duffy Law in the middle of a Title IX sexual assault proceeding. While I had initially retained another attorney on a recommendation, it turns out they did not have much insight to the inner workings of university policy, which I learned is NOT required to follow the basic laws of due process. Felice was absolutely incredible, and as an athlete, she understood my thought process and feelings the entire way. This is what stood out the most to me. At the beginning of my school’s adjudication process, I was an absolute mess. Not only is Felice extremely knowledgeable in law and how school adjudication processes work, but she also really does care about her clients and their well-being.

It was initially extremely tough for me to speak about what I was facing. Felice was able to assist me not only in compiling the proper evidence and responding to the school, but also put me in the right state of mind to defend myself and move on with my life after it was all completed. Prior to hiring Duffy Law, I was concerned that I would be relegated to working with a legal assistant or secretary being that my case was in a college setting as opposed to a state court. However, Felice always found a way to make time and was there every step of the way.

I feel like an important part of hiring an attorney is being able to trust them to fight for you no matter what the scenario may be and you can rest assured you will be getting that with Duffy Law. I would recommend Felice Duffy of Duffy Law 10 times out of 10 to anyone that may be put in a tough situation like I was”

Female College Freshman, Massachusetts

“The claims leveled against me were terrible, but the wonderful news is that I was fully cleared of all the allegations because of the outstanding work Christine Brown and the team at Duffy Law did on my behalf. The first thing that really impressed me was that from the very first call Christine quickly understood what was going on and was able to read between the lines to understand the complicated dynamics of the situation. Despite my entire career being spent in academia, I didn't know much about Title IX procedures. Her expertise and knowledge of the process was immediately apparent and critically helpful in guiding me and giving me as much peace of mind as possible..

Christine knew how to spot the important subtext throughout the process and made sure I understood the strategic options I had at every stage going forward. I felt very confident in the decisions we made together. I felt vindicated by the decision and that this situation will have no further effects on my career. I am very grateful to Christine and Duffy Law for guiding me through this stressful process and recommend them without reservation to any faculty member facing a similarly challenging situation. ”

Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine at a midwest university

“When your kid is accused of a serious conduct code violation at his college, you quickly learn that there’s a whole different set of rules in place than in the real world. There are no legal standards, no assurances of a “fair trial.” You’re presumed guilty and you have to backtrack and prove why you’re NOT guilty. We pretty quickly realized that we needed strong legal representation and guidance. Our son was completely falsely accused and we were ready to dig in to clear his name.

Duffy Law’s truly unique background and deep experience with navigating the school’s process was amazing. They made it clear that our son was the client, not us (his parents). They worked with him extensively and earned his total trust. He felt empowered that he had the right people in his corner to defend him. They gave our whole family a sense a calm and confidence.

Thanks to incredibly hard work by Felice and her team, our son was found “not responsible” (meaning innocent of any wrongdoing). The outcome was everything we could have hoped for. I have already recommended Duffy Law to a friend who’s son was caught up in a serious, very complicated conduct code charge, and I will continue to recommend them to any student or parent without reservation.”

Parent of a male southwest private college senior

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Schools Where We've Handled Cases

Here are some of the schools where we’ve represented students, faculty, coaches, and staff:

  • Amherst College
  • Arkansas State University
  • Bard College
  • Bates College
  • Belmont Abbey College
  • Black Hills State University
  • Bowling Green State University
  • Brandeis University
  • Brown University
  • Cal State Polytechnic University
  • Campbell University
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Central Connecticut State University
  • Charter Oak State College
  • Colgate University
  • College of the Holy Cross
  • Colorado State University
  • Columbia University
  • Connecticut College
  • Creighton Law School
  • Dartmouth College
  • Dartmouth Medical School
  • Elim Bible Institute and College
  • Emmanuel College
  • Fairfield University
  • Flagler College
  • Florida State University
  • Fordham University
  • Furman University
  • George Fox University
  • Guilford College
  • Howard University
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Indiana University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • LaSalle University
  • Lesley University
  • Long Island University
  • Louisiana State University
  • Marist College
  • Marquette University
  • Miami University
  • Michigan State University
  • Mississippi University
  • Mount St. Mary's University
  • New College of Florida
  • Nichols College
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Pittsburgh State University
  • Plymouth State University
  • Quinnipiac University
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rice University
  • Sacred Heart University
  • South Carolina State University
  • Southern Connecticut State University
  • St. John's University
  • St. Lawrence University
  • Syracuse University
  • Swarthmore College
  • Tallahassee Comm. College
  • Texas A&M Univiersity
  • Touro University
  • Trinity College
  • Tufts University
  • University of Buffalo
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of California, Santa Barbara
  • University of California, Riverside
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Hartford
  • University of Kansas
  • University of Lynchburg
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Mass. Med. School
  • University of Miami
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Nebraska
  • University of New Haven
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • University of Pittsburg
  • University of Redlands California
  • University of Rhode Island
  • University of Texas Austin
  • University of Vermont
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
  • University of Wisconsin, Whitewater
  • University of Wyoming
  • Utah University School of Medicine
  • Vance-Granville Community College
  • Vassar College
  • Virginia Wesleyan University
  • Washington University, St. Louis
  • Wesleyan University
  • Westfield State University
  • Western Connecticut State University
  • Western Washington University
  • Wheaton College
  • William Smith College
  • Yale University
  • Youngstown State University

Title IX is a complicated law with provisions that protect students and employees of federally-funded schools from sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. If these kinds of misconduct occur at a K-12 school, college, or university that receives any federal funds, the victim of the misconduct has the right to file a complaint regarding the conduct. Although lodging a complaint is a protected right, many people who do so find themselves facing adverse reactions from the institution or other parties involved in the complaint.

Fortunately, Title IX also prohibits a school or party to a complaint from retaliating against anyone involved in an investigation, complaint, or proceeding. Parties on both sides of a complaint, as well as involved teachers and coaches, are protected from retaliation. Unlawful retaliation occurs when the following are true:

  • A party engaged in protected activity
  • Another party took adverse action against them
  • The cause of the adverse action was the protected activity

While most schools strive to prevent retaliation, sometimes the school administration is the retaliating party. If you believe that you have suffered unlawful retaliation for your participation in a Title IX complaint or proceeding at your institution, you should seek legal advice from a knowledgeable Title IX attorney as soon as possible.

Retaliation by Other Students

When two students are on opposite sides of a Title IX sexual misconduct allegation, it should be no surprise that they may have ill feelings toward one another. However, schools are required to take proper measures to protect each student from any form of retaliation by the other. First, the prohibition against retaliation should be clearly stated in each school’s sexual misconduct handbook. This policy should make it clear that Title IX prohibits any retaliation against anyone involved in a Title IX complaint.

Retaliation can take many forms between two students and determining whether retaliation occurred is a very fact-specific matter. If you’ve been accused of retaliation or believe someone else has retaliated against you, our legal team can evaluate what happened and advise whether you may have a Title IX retaliation claim.

Retaliation claims may be especially common when the school has issued a no-contact order between the students. If the students were acquaintances or friends and an allegation arises, the accused student may try to talk to the complainant to explain or clarify what happened or even to apologize. Even if the student may have been trying to reconcile, violation of a no-contact order is often considered to be a form of retaliation under Title IX and the school’s policies. In this situation, something as simple as saying hello to someone could result in a retaliation claim.

Students accused of retaliation may face an additional disciplinary charge and possible sanctions under their school’s handbook. For this reason, it is important for students to always obey no-contact orders and for schools to take proper measures to prevent retaliation whenever possible. If a school allows retaliation to occur, the victim could then have a separate Title IX claim against the school.

Retaliation by Institutions

Students are not the only parties who may be accused of unlawful retaliation under Title IX. Institutions may not engage in any form of retaliation against students, teachers, coaches, or other employees who are involved in a claim. For example, if a student complains about the unequal treatment of male and female athletes, the school cannot then exclude that student from the athletic team in retaliation for the complaint. If a student complains of sexual assault, the school may not retaliate by enacting harsh interim measures against the complainant, such as a much less desirable schedule or housing, or excluding them from activities.

Retaliation by a school is particularly common against employees who complain of Title IX violations. If a teacher reports sexual harassment or assault, whether it involves the teacher or a student on campus, the school may not then take adverse action against the teacher for making the report. Adverse action can take many forms, including:

  • Refusing a promotion
  • Refusing to grant tenure
  • Refusing a pay increase
  • Suspension
  • Demotion
  • Transfer to a less desirable position or department
  • Termination

Retaliation can even involve harassment or mistreatment by supervisors, such as within an athletic department. Title IX prohibits any type of adverse action against school employees in response to the employee exercising their rights under the law. Employees can bring retaliation claims against institutions just like students can.

Handling Complex Retaliation Claims

Retaliation claims may be difficult and complex, as schools or students will rarely freely admit that they acted in retaliation. Instead, a pretextual reason may be offered for the adverse treatment. If a student is kicked off a sports team, the coach may claim it was due to poor performance or lack of sportsmanship when, in reality, it was a response to a Title IX complaint. If a professor is refused tenure, the school may claim it was based on lack of merit when it was actually retaliation for complaining of sexual harassment in the department.

Victims of retaliation often have much to lose, including their jobs and their educational opportunities. If you are concerned that you may experience, or have already experienced, retaliation because of involvement in a Title IX complaint, you need the right Title IX attorney on your side every step of the way.

Wrongful Firing and Retaliation Claims

In Title IX matters, much of the focus is on students’ rights and opportunities on campus. However, Title IX also protects faculty, staff, and professors from prohibited actions, and that includes unlawful retaliation. Wrongful firing and other retaliatory actions could provide grounds for a claim under Title IX.

Wrongful Retaliation in the Employment Context

Retaliation that violates Title IX laws and regulations often looks different in employment situations. An institution may take overt actions such as firing an employee who filed a Title IX complaint. In many cases, however, unlawful retaliation is more subtle. Any adverse action made to retaliate against an employee who complained, filed a claim or supported a Title IX investigation can give the injured employee the right to seek redress under Title IX. These actions could include:

  • Termination of employment
  • Removal from board or committee positions
  • Reassignment to less desirable duties or locations
  • Denial of a promotion or tenure
  • Denying opportunities provided to employees similarly situated
  • Unreasonable poor performance reviews

Potentially, any action that inconveniences an employee could be considered retaliatory. The challenge is to prove that the action was taken in retaliation for Title IX action. School administrators are not likely to willingly admit they acted in retaliation. They are likely to provide other reasons for firing or disciplining an employee or taking other adverse actions.

In some cases, when an employee can show that the condition used as grounds for the disciplinary action existed for some time but was only acted on after the Title IX case, that can be persuasive evidence of retaliation. For instance, if the school claims a faculty member was terminated for issuing too many failing grades to students but the passage rate had not changed in ten years, then it can be easy to believe that something else led to the termination.

It is crucial to locate evidence to connect the adverse action to the Title IX claim. Direct evidence of retaliation is wonderful to have but very difficult to obtain. Finding a document or witness who heard a supervisor say they were firing an employee because they were unhappy with their complaints about Title IX violations would provide great support to a claim. Because it is so rare, however, courts are prepared to accept circumstantial evidence of retaliation.

Remedies for Wrongful Termination Under Title IX

If you file a lawsuit against the educational institution for wrongful termination or another form of retaliation, you may be eligible to seek compensation and other forms of relief. You might be entitled to recover lost wages, including interruptions in salary while searching for a new position and losses due to taking a pay cut at a new job.

You could also potentially receive punitive damages. Retaliatory actions against an employee are deliberate acts of wrongdoing that violate public policy. Punitive damages are awarded to warn and deter others in the same situation from acting in a similar fashion. Your attorney may be able to persuade the judge that the retaliatory actions taken against you were so egregious that punitive damages are warranted.

Finally, you may be eligible for specific equitable forms of relief. This could include being reinstated to your job or a similar (or better) position. If the retaliatory measures were less drastic than termination, you might receive a promotion or other opportunities that had been denied by the institution earlier. The remedies, like the process of proving retaliation, generally hinge on the facts of the case itself. 

Our Experienced Title IX Retaliation Attorneys Are Here to Help

At Duffy Law, we are committed to protecting your rights under Title IX, including the right to be free from unlawful retaliation. We can represent clients in their underlying Title IX complaints, as well as any additional retaliation claims that may arise. Our highly knowledgeable lawyers have extensive experience handling Title IX and college misconduct cases and we understand the procedures and requirements involved in ensuring successful resolution.

If you think you’ve been a victim of retaliation or that your rights under Title IX were violated in another way, please do not wait to call our office at 203-946-2000 or contact us online today.

How Can We Help?

How Can We Help?