Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments (Title IX) outlawed discrimination based on sex in educational programs and institutions that receive federal funding. Through Title IX, students can report sexual assault, sexual harassment, discrimination, stalking, and even dating and domestic violence.
Academic institutions and their governing boards are legally accountable under Title IX. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR), an arm of the Department of Education, has the responsibility to communicate and enforce colleges’ and universities’ obligations based on Title IX.
If you have been refused service, harassed, or retaliated against in a school activity because of your gender, you have a cause of action under Title IX. Fillmore Spencer attorneys have brought successful lawsuits against academic institutions. We have also successfully represented clients who have been victims of sexual abuse and discrimination.
Title IX claims can protect you if you are a student enrolled in an academic institution, or if you’re employed or affiliated with an educational institution that receives federal funding. Title IX covers schools that receive federal funding, even when there are no federal funds allocated to the activity at issue. The Civil Rights Restoration Act extended the application of Title IX to schools that receive federal funds. Title IX claims can be brought against a private institution; the type of school you attend is not as important as the facts surrounding your case. Congress has not expressly legislated that Title IX applies exclusively to public institutions.
While Title IX covers all areas of academic life, there are two main areas where Title IX claims have been successful:
The impact of Title IX has been so significant in sports, particularly in expanding opportunities for female athletes, that many people mistakenly believe that Title IX only applies to athletics. If you discriminated against and denied a chance to be on a team, you should consult with an attorney. Although you may have been told the basis for the decision was unbiased, a thorough review may find systemic bias that limited your opportunity. In these cases, courts will look at the school’s population gender ratio and any disparity between that and the availability of opportunities for males and females. The actual inclusion criteria of the athletic team or group within the school to deny you access will not stand as a basis of non-discrimination.
Title IX also applies when there is funding or sponsorship that promotes gender inequality. This can apply to a single athlete, a team, or even academic programs. The interpretation of Title IX has also extended to include protections for coaches, team support staff. and athletic officials in lawsuits showing inequality in pay based on sex.
The courts are still extending the interpretation and application of Title IX. The courts initially determined that Title IX covers sexual harassment. More recent cases have extended the interpretation and prohibited discrimination based on gender stereotypes. If your son or daughter is harassed or hazed, even by students who look like him or her, a complaint based on Title IX can be brought against the school.
Title IX has also been effective in combating sexual harassment in hostile environments, quid pro quo, and peer to peer situations within educational institutions. A hostile environment is defined as “one in which unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s performance.” Quid pro quo is the Latin term used to describe situations wherein allowing sexual advances is a condition of the maintenance of employment. Peer to peer sexual harassment occurs when a person in a position of authority knows of harassment among students or subordinate employees and responds with “deliberate indifference” to it.
Those who inform authorities of violations to Title IX are afforded whistleblower protection. The Supreme Court ruled in Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education to extended the scope of Title IX to protect whistleblowers in gender discrimination cases. School officials and students are protected from liability if they report problems of sexual assault, sexual harassment, violence, and discrimination within academic institutions.
Our Title IX Violation Attorneys Can Help. If you or your child were subject to discrimination because of gender or sexual orientation, call Fillmore Spencer today. We offer free initial consultations to those seeking legal guidance or representation for sex-based discrimination and Title IX violations. Call us at (801) 426-8200 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation regarding your family law needs.