Articles Posted in Title IX

Yes, an individual can sue a college or university for a Title IX violation. The Supreme Court has recognized that Title IX entitles a person injured by a violation to sue for damages. In such cases, the plaintiff must demonstrate that an official of the educational institution who has the authority to institute corrective measures has actual notice of the misconduct and is deliberately indifferent to it (Doe v. St. Francis School Dist., 694 F.3d 869 (2012)).

Title IX violations in the educational context have been encountered in several legal proceedings. Examples include Hendrichsen v. Ball State University, where a student sued alleging a professor’s advances created a hostile learning environment, and Doe v. University of Southern Indiana, where a student sued after a Title IX committee found that he had sexually assaulted another student (Hendrichsen v. Ball State University, 107 Fed.Appx. 680 (2004)). Gash v. Rosalind Franklin University involved a former student suing for Title IX sex discrimination after his expulsion for violation of the university’s Title IX policy (Gash v. Rosalind Franklin University, — F.Supp.3d —- (2023)).

The Conviser v. DePaul University case expanded the scope of individuals who can sue for Title IX violations. The court found that a Title IX retaliation plaintiff need not plead that she is a university student or faculty member to have statutory standing. This suggests that individuals beyond students and faculty can also bring a Title IX claim if they witness and report discrimination and face retaliation (Conviser v. DePaul University, 649 F.Supp.3d 686 (2023).

However, it’s important to note that certain circumstances may fall outside the scope of Title IX. For instance, in Shannon v. Board of Trustees of The University of Illinois, the court found that an assault that occurred off-campus and out-of-state did not constitute “Title IX Sexual Harassment” and was not within Title IX’s jurisdiction (Shannon v. Board of Trustees of The University of Illinois, 2024 WL 218103 (2024)). But all off-campus assaults are not necessarily immune from Title IX. Each claim is different and a number of cases have proceeded even though the assault was off campus.

Furthermore, not all entities related to education are subject to Title IX. For example, the Supreme Court held in National Collegiate Athletic Ass’n v. Smith that the NCAA is not subject to the requirements of Title IX merely because it receives dues from its member institutions which receive federal financial assistance (National Collegiate Athletic Ass’n v. Smith, 525 U.S. 459 (1999)).

It’s also crucial to bear in mind that some of the legal principles established in certain cases may no longer be applicable due to their abrogation. For example, Delgado v. Stegall was abrogated by Doe No. 55 v. Madison Metropolitan School District in 2018, and Doe v. Smith was abrogated by Trentadue v. Redmon in 2010. Similarly, Boulahanis v. Board of Regents was abrogated by Trentadue v. Redmon in 2010. These abrogations may affect the interpretation and application of the principles established in these cases to current claims.

Lastly, Title IX, as codified in 20 U.S.C.A. § 1681, prohibits sex-based discrimination in any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance, with certain exceptions (20 U.S.C.A. § 1681). Continue reading ›

  1. Experience: Lubin Austermuehle has specific experience dealing with Title IX cases, which involve allegations of sexual discrimination, harassment, or violence in educational settings. Their familiarity with such cases can be crucial in navigating the complexities of both the legal aspects and the educational policies involved.
  2. Understanding of Educational Law: A law firm that concentrates on Title IX and discrimination cases, will have a deep understanding of the legal frameworks that govern educational institutions. This expertise can be instrumental in ensuring that your rights are protected throughout the process.
  3. Advocacy and Representation: It’s crucial to have effective representation when facing a Title IX accusation, whether you are the complainant or the respondent. A specialized law firm can provide strong advocacy, ensuring that your side of the story is heard and that you are treated fairly under the law.

There’s a reason most survivors of sexual assault never report the crime. Many of those who do report it go by Jane Doe to protect their identity and avoid some of the abuse and death threats that get aimed at anyone who claims they were sexually assaulted.

Regardless of what the survivors of sexual assault are made to endure, society is generally more sympathetic towards the accused and the possibility that the accusation will follow them around for the rest of their life.

The latest example of this is the recent decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court to allow a former Yale undergraduate student who was accused of rape to sue his accuser for defamation.

When he first filed his lawsuit against his accuser, who is going by Jane Doe to protect her identity, an attorney representing Doe said she was protected by absolute immunity under Title IX, which is the law under which she made her accusation.

But the former Yale student insisted he had the right to sue her, and the case made its way up the court system until it reached the Connecticut Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor.

According to the state supreme court, Doe had qualified immunity, which allows the defamation lawsuit to go to trial, but requires the plaintiff to prove the defendant knew their statement was false or did not care that it was likely false at the time the alleged defamation occurred.

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that Doe would only have been granted absolute immunity if the Title IX proceedings had been quasi-judicial.

To qualify as quasi-judicial proceedings, they would have had to include Doe testifying under oath; the cross-examination of witnesses in real time; providing both parties the opportunity to present witnesses; allowing the accused to consult with an attorney; and providing the accused with a transcript or some other record of the hearing afterwards.

The problem with these requirements (especially the first two) is that it can be extremely difficult for survivors of sexual assault to relive their trauma by explaining it again and again on the stand. Continue reading ›

Reversing the dismissal of the plaintiff’s Title IX complaint against Purdue University by a magistrate judge, the Seventh Circuit breathed new life into a claim against the university by a former student. The student, referred to only as John Doe in the opinion as is common in Title IX suits, alleged that Purdue University’s improper handling of a Title IX investigation ruined his ability to pursue a career in the Navy.

John Doe was a student at Purdue University on an ROTC scholarship when he was accused of sexual assault by a former girlfriend, who also was a member of Purdue’s ROTC program. After the university’s investigation, it held a hearing where, according to John’s complaint, the university prohibited him from presenting evidence and witnesses. Further, the university did not require John’s accuser to testify but instead chose to consider a letter written by one of the university’s Title IX coordinators containing a summary of the accusations against John. The university ultimately found John guilty of sexual assault and suspended him for one academic year. In addition, John lost his scholarship, was involuntarily discharged from the ROTC program, and banned from re-enlistment in the program. Purdue also shared the findings of its investigation with the Navy.

The university moved to dismiss John Doe’s complaint. A magistrate granted the motion to dismiss finding that John had failed to state a claim under Title IX. The Seventh Circuit began its analysis by reiterating that the protections of Title IX are enforceable through an implied cause of action. The court then proceeded to review the doctrinal tests developed by other circuits for establishing bias based on one’s sex. The Seventh Circuit declined to adopt any particular test opting instead to simply review the totality of the allegations to determine if it creates an inference that sex was a motivating factor in the university’s decision. Continue reading ›

Despite the strides we’ve made towards gender equality, men’s careers are still typically seen as more valuable than women’s careers, not only in the form of higher salaries but also in the form of prioritizing men’s careers over women’s safety. This is true in almost every industry, but especially in college sports. Because college sports teams regularly bring in millions of dollars for their schools, colleges and universities often go to great lengths to protect their athletes and their athletic programs – even when it means sacrificing the educations and careers of female students.

Title IX is a federal law that was enacted to put a stop to these kinds of dangerous and discriminatory practices so women could feel safe on campus, and yet many women still struggle to access their rights under this federal protection. While many colleges all over the country have been accused of denying female students their rights under Title IX, Michigan State University is the latest to face a lawsuit alleging it denied rights guaranteed under Title IX to female students by actively discouraging them from reporting sexual harassment and assault conducted by members of the school’s athletic program. Continue reading ›

One of the reasons many sexual assault survivors don’t come forward is because doing so involves telling a traumatic story over and over again, so most of them figure they have a better chance of being able to move on with their lives if they just don’t say anything about it. However, sometimes the men are in fact falsely accused and this also has a traumatic and life-altering impact on them. These two factors are now causing more libel suits to be filed by male students who allege that they have falsely accused as a way to restore their reputations and good name.

The filing of such suits does have an impact on women coming forward to report sexual harassment and rape. Women who do come forward often have to endure threats, harassment, and people showing more compassion for their assailant than for them, since his life has allegedly been ruined by her accusations. Now men and women are finding that they have to face another layer in campus sexual assault claims — a libel suit.

Lately, experts and those working in education say they have seen a significant rise in the number of defamation lawsuits that have been filed over the past couple of years. Many of these lawsuits are filed by alleged assailants who claim they were the ones victimized by biased disciplinary panels that did not give them a fair hearing, and that their educations and careers were ruined as a result. While it used to be rare for students to sue their own school, experts say it is now becoming almost reflexive for those accused of sexual harassment or assault to sue their school as a result of those accusations. Continue reading ›

While many have been cheering the fact that more and more women are coming out of the shadows to talk about the ways in which they were sexually harassed and abused, the current administration is still trying to silence those same women who have had to suffer through the shame and humiliation of having been attacked by members of the opposite gender.

Many of the advancements made under President Barack Obama’s administration are being pulled back under the current administration and many students fear Title IX protections will soon follow. With the appointment of Betsy DeVos to Education Secretary, advocates for those who have been targets of sexual harassment and assault are afraid that much of the steps forward that have been made regarding Title IX in recent years is about to be undone.

New Title IX rules created by DeVos are expected to be announced any day now, and considering DeVos’s recent comments defending those who believe they have been wrongly accused of sexual assault, many people are worried the new rule will work to protect them, rather than those on whom they prey. Continue reading ›

Educational amendments of 1972 protect people from discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities which are recipients of federal financial assistance.  In the event of discrimination, taking legal action can be made under Title IX in order to empower oneself or other students.  We have compiled the following resource to assist in as to how one is able to take legal action with the guidance of legal experts and you may wish to contact this firm if you feel that you are a recipient, or know of someone that may have endured discrimination.

Who is eligible to file?

Anyone who believes that they have been subject to acts of discrimination on the basis of sex against any person or group in a program that receives financial assistance may file a complaint with the OCR under Title IX.  The bar to overcome is that of a general “hostile sexual environment.” All complaints should be sent to the OCR enforcement office that serves the state in which the alleged conduct occurred.

When to file?

Complaints must be filed within 180 days of alleged discrimination unless there is an extension granted “for good cause” by the Enforcement Office Director.  Prior to filing, other options that may be available include using the school’s institutional grievance processes to have the issue addressed and resolved.  By law, a complaint does not have to use the institutional process prior to filing with the OCR.  A timeline does change should a person use the institutional process for grievance, with an allowance of an additional 60 days of the last act of the institutional grievance process. Continue reading ›

In the onslaught of mishandled sexual assault allegations Baylor University is currently facing, it can knock one off the list.

The settled case involves a former student who alleges she was assaulted at a place called “The Rugby House,” an off-campus residence where Baylor officials had received reports of sexual assault occurring in the past. The plaintiff (who went only by Jane Doe, to protect her identity) did not name her attacker in the lawsuit, although she said he was not a member of the school’s rugby team.

The lawsuit claimed Baylor University had initially offered to help her identify the person who had drugged and kidnapped her, and told her they had received other reports of similar attacks happening at The Rugby House. But the university allegedly gave up the search and stopped contacting Jane Doe five weeks after the incident.

Jane Doe said she was too embarrassed to file a police report, but that her mother had contacted school officials about the incident to see what they were doing about it. Jane Doe dropped out in 2015 and filed her lawsuit against the school in 2016. The details of the settlement have not been released to protect her privacy. Continue reading ›

When tragedy strikes, we are generally told not to blame the victim. Unfortunately, it’s human nature to do so, especially when the victims are women who have been sexually assaulted.

Ten different women filing similar allegations against Baylor University in Texas allege their rights were denied and/or violated under federal law. All the women allege they were sexually assaulted, either on school grounds and/or by other students, including at least one football player.

When the women reported the assaults to Baylor University officials, they’re reports were allegedly ignored and treated with indifference. Now the women have filed a total of six lawsuits against the school for allegedly violating their Title IX rights.

Baylor submitted requests for the first four lawsuits to be dismissed. It has not yet asked the court to dismiss the two lawsuits that were most recently filed, but it may still do so in the future. According to Baylor, the allegations submitted by the ten different women did not bear enough similarities to be filed jointly. Since they involved different places, victims, contexts, and alleged attackers, Baylor argued the combined cases should be dismissed and filed individually.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman disagreed, refusing all four of Baylor’s motions to dismiss. In his written decision, Pitman noted the similarities in claims brought by all the plaintiffs, namely their alleged mistreatment by Baylor officials, which allegedly resulted in deprivation of educational opportunities, either as a direct or indirect result of the trauma they suffered and the school’s refusal to properly handle the situation. Continue reading ›

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