What Are Title IX Penalties
- Case Results
- List of Schools
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 collegeSee More Case Results
I was introduced to Attorney Duffy by my criminal defense attorney because I was fighting both a criminal charge and a conduct code violations charge. Felice's office responded right away and she and I met by Zoom video. She and her team were respectful, professional and super knowledgeable. They made everything clear and easily understandable. They knew exactly what questions to ask the school officials to get them to focus on the facts that supported my case. I was incredibly well prepared. I knew what I was going to say before I went in to my interviews and how to react to the many questions that would have tripped me up. I got probation, which was definitely the best possible outcome and I couldn’t have gotten that without Attorney Duffy’s help.
“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.
Felice's truly unique background and deep experience with navigating the school’s process was amazing. She made it clear that our son was the client, not us (his parents). She worked with him extensively and earned his total trust. He felt empowered that he had the right person in his corner to defend him. Felice 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 Felice to a friend who’s son was caught up in a serious, very complicated conduct code charge, and I will continue to recommend her to any student or parent without reservation.”
Parent of a private college senior
“I selected the firm after doing extensive research trying to locate an attorney that specializes in sexual assault cases on university campuses. Late one night I emailed her for a consult just to see what she had to say. By 6:30am the next morning she had already emailed me back leaving her information for me to call her. I was impressed by her promptness and early morning response. Our criminal attorney informed our family that this simply wasn’t his specialty and strongly recommended we hire someone who really understood how university disciplinary systems work.
In our culture, we are not often trusting and it took a huge step of faith to consider someone we didn’t know (much less one from out of state) to defend our son.
Based on her collegiate athletic background I felt that she would have a better understanding of our case as our son is a D1 athlete. Based on that and her professional accomplishments I felt like she was driven and determined and she clearly had the ability to understand the laws associated with Title IX.
Bottom line is that our son was found 100% not responsible (meaning not guilty) of the extremely serious charges that were brought against him by a female student.
Felice Duffy and her team were professional, focused, responsive and did a great job throughout the entire stressful ordeal. When we think about how badly and unfairly our son might have been treated by the school, we truly count our blessings that we found Ms. Duffy.”
Parent of a College Sophomore, OhioSee More Client Testimonials
Colleges We Serve
Here are just some of the schools where we’ve represented students, faculty, coaches, and staff:
- Amherst College
- Arkansas State University
- Bowling Green State University
- Charter Oak State College
- Colgate University
- College of the Holy Cross
- Columbia University
- Connecticut College
- Dartmouth College
- Fairfield University
- Flagler College
- Florida State University
- Guilford College
- Howard University
- Illinois Institute of Technology
- Indiana University
- Lesley University
- Marist College
- Marquette University
- Miami University
- Mississippi University
- Pennsylvania State University
- Plymouth State University
- Quinnipiac University
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- Sacred Heart University
- South Carolina State University
- St. John's University
- St. Lawrence University
- Syracuse University
- Tallahassee Comm. College
- Touro University
- Trinity College
- Tufts University
- University of Connecticut
- University of Kansas
- University of Mass. Med. School
- University of Miami
- University of Missouri
- University of Northern Colorado
- University of Texas
- University of Virginia
- University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
- Utah University School of Medicine
- Virginia Wesleyan University
- Washington University at St. Louis
- Wesleyan University
- Westfield State University
- Wheaton College
- Yale University
Title IX is a federal law that was initially designed, as part of the Education Amendments passed in 1972, to protect individuals from gender bias. It was initially intended, among other things, to ensure equal opportunities for individuals in athletics and school admissions. As a result, more doors have been opened to women—the statute has enabled more women to enter colleges and universities and to take advantage of higher educational opportunities.
As Title IX entrenched itself into the American academic culture starting in 1972, young women began to have other women as role models, and the rest is history.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s educational experience was wrought with battles for gender equality. Although she graduated at the top of her class from Cornell University, she met with gender discrimination throughout her entire educational career. Along with the other seven female students in her class of over 500 at Harvard Law, she was constantly reminded they were displacing other qualified males. In 2017, women made up 33 percent of Harvard’s 554 graduate students. One can’t help but think this change is due, at least in part, to Title IX.
The High Cost Of Non-Compliance
The ultimate penalty for non-compliance with Title IX regulations is the withdrawal of federal funds, including monies earmarked for student loans. At the end of the fourth quarter of 2018, 42.9 million borrowers owed $1.4392 trillion. With this much money at stake, colleges and universities across the country are paying close attention to the mandates of Title IX.
Title IX Violations Are All Encompassing
Title IX applies to:
- Administrative staff
- Vendors doing business at the institution
- Other full and part-time employees
Violations may include scenarios such as:
- Gender bias in athletic programs
- Assault and sexual misconduct
- Relationship violence
- Sexual coercion
- Housing discrimination
- Gender bias in the workplace
- Sexually motivated verbal and non-verbal conduct
- Discrimination against pregnant or parenting students
- Creating a hostile educational environment
OCR Enforces Title IX
Title IX regulations are enforced and investigated by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”). Complaints against a school can be filed with OCR. OCR investigates a school’s failure to eliminate discrimination in the following types of issues:
- Athletic programs
- Sexual harassment
- Within science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs
- Pregnancy and parenting issues
- Relationship violence
- A disparity in pay based on gender
Under Title IX, educational facilities can also be held liable in court if it is determined that the institution knew about but failed to address sexual harassment or sexual misconduct issues in any programs or activities sponsored by the school.
The School Has Mandated Obligations Under Title IX
As soon as a school is made aware of possible misconduct, harassment, violence, or discrimination, immediate action should be taken to:
- Determine what happened
- End sexual violence
- Prevent its recurrence
- Address its effects
- Protect the complainant
- Provide a grievance procedure
In addition to filings at OCR or in court, complaints can be made through a school’s internal disciplinary grievance procedure. In those proceedings, the question of sexual misconduct can become a complicated situation, especially when one party alleges nonconsensual sexual activity and the other claims the sexual activity was voluntary.
Consent at colleges typically means there was no force, coercion, or intimidation by either party and most schools apply an affirmative consent standard, meaning that there must be affirmative conduct (words or physical conduct) for each stage of sexual activity and consent for one act does not mean consent for another. Additionally, the addition of impairment from drugs or alcohol can add another layer of complexity to the issue.
A Title IX investigation can involve a fact-finding investigation and frequently a hearing. The purpose of this is to determine if the alleged incident in question involved any form of recognized misconduct. The institution’s Title IX compliance coordinator is charged with ensuring the investigation or hearing is both prompt and impartial and the complainant and the respondent are given the same rights.
Although a private defense attorney’s role is limited in a school’s internal Title IX investigation, if you are accused of misconduct, hiring a lawyer has definite benefits. Typically you can expect a private lawyer to investigate before the hearing on your behalf, prepare you for the questions you may be asked, advise you as to the best way you should respond to the panel’s questions, and stand with you to ensure you are being treated as fairly and equally whether as a complainant or respondent.
If a respondent is found responsible for violating any Title IX mandates, penalties may include:
- A verbal or written warning
- Disciplinary probation
- A change of residence halls
- Suspension for for a designated period of time
- Expulsion from school
- A change in a job position
- Loss of employment
- Loss of tenure
- A requirement to seek counseling
- Loss of scholarships
- The requirement of a formal letter of apology
- Revocation or withholding of a degree
Defending Against an Accusation Can Be Stressful
Both students and faculty alike can feel overwhelmed at the possibility of having to defend themselves against an accusation of discrimination or sexual misconduct. Most will find that their daily academic and professional responsibilities are severely disrupted while they attempt to gather evidence, locate witnesses, and prepare a defense strategy.
In the court of public opinion presumption of guilt is highly likely when someone is publicly accused of misconduct and preconceived notions can be extremely hard to overcome. We can not stress enough the importance of hiring a Title IX attorney if you are the victim of, or being accused of, a Title IX violation.
Contact Duffy Law at (203) 946-2000 today and tell us how we can help you. Attorneys Felice Duffy, Paul Thomas, Justin Smith, and Gaileen Kaufman stand ready to stand with you during complicated and frightening situations that may impact your reputation, your profession, and your ability to continue your education.
How Can We Help?