Are Title IX Complaints/Lawsuits Public?

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

Title IX complaints and lawsuits can be filed to seek help with sex discrimination or sexual harassment in education.  In many cases, these complaints and lawsuits are filed because students face pervasive sex discrimination or mistreatment by teachers, coaches, administrators, and other school employees.  For any school, these kinds of complaints can be difficult to deal with publicly, especially for universities and private schools.  Generally, all parties involved might want to keep the details of the claim private, so many peoples’ first concern about a Title IX claim is whether or not it is public.  The Law Office of Andrew Shubin’s Title IX violation lawyers explain whether Title IX complaints and lawsuits are public and what kind of information might be released about your case.

Are Title IX Claims Public Records?

Title IX complaints are usually filed with the school and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).  Lawsuits based on Title IX violations are filed in court.  Especially for Title IX violations in a high school or university that is public, all entities involved – the OCR, the court, and the school – are public entities.  However, the information in your complaint or report is unlikely to be made fully public for various reasons.

Because these documents are created for and by public organizations, they are technically public records.  This means that they may eventually be subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests or disclosure to the public.  However, the information in a Title IX complaint is usually so sensitive that these entities will not disclose the information, especially not while a case is being investigated or pending in court.

Are Title IX Complaints Reported in the News?

Many people hear about Title IX in the first place because they’ve seen news reports about institutional sexual assault or sex discrimination at school in news reports.  In some instances, the information that the reporters get comes from the public parts of the filing.  However, it is possible that the information came from the victims and their families going to reporters to speak up about what happened to them.

The school itself is unlikely to want any of the information about the claim to leak, especially if it contains information that shows any of its staff or administrators committed indecent acts or participated in coverups.  This means that you can often avoid a public scene.  However, since the information must be filed with public entities, some parts may be made available for reporters.  Many public disclosures can usually be redacted to protect the victims, especially if they are minors.

Preventing Retaliation from Public Complaints for Title IX Violations

One of the biggest reasons that people want to keep complaints and lawsuits for Title IX violations private is because they fear retaliation.  Victims of discrimination or other mistreatment barred by Title IX deserve to have their claims respected, and they deserve to make those complaints free from the fear that the institution will punish them for speaking up.  Because of this, it is illegal to retaliate against someone for filing a claim for a Title IX violation.

Many students and other individuals involved in Title IX complaints may fear that the institution will expel them or take disciplinary actions against them.  In cases of workplace sexual harassment at a school, victims may fear they will be fired or lose their tenure for speaking up.  In any case, it is absolutely illegal for an institution to punish someone for filing a Title IX complaint.

Can You File a Title IX Complaint Anonymously?

In general, the OCR does allow anonymous Title IX complaints.  However, you should speak with a lawyer and reconsider your options before deciding to file an anonymous complaint for two main reasons.

First, if your complaint is anonymous, the OCR and the school will be unable to contact you for additional information to help build the investigation and find the right path to relief.  If your initial complaint does not have enough information, this may mean that the complaint is ignored or set aside.

Second, there is no path to compensation with an anonymous complaint.  Complaints filed with the OCR do not usually lead to financial compensation for the victim, especially if the complaint is filed anonymously and there is no way of contacting the complainant.  Instead, you may be better off filing a lawsuit with a court of law to seek compensation and justice for the harm you faced.

Can Title IX Complaints Be Filed Against Public and Private Schools?

Private schools, both at the high school and college levels, often receive federal funding.  This means they are held to the same standards in Title IX that a public school is held to.

In many cases, the records and documents related to Title IX complaints are harder to access with a private university or high school, which may make it harder for the information contained in your complaint to become public.  Still, the documents filed with the OCR or the court may become public records that could be the subject of a FOIA request and may be released later in a redacted form.

Call Our Title IX Lawyer for a Free Legal Consultation

If you were the victim of Title IX sex and gender discrimination in college or high school, or if you have a child who was discriminated against or harassed, you may be entitled to file a Title IX lawsuit or complaint.  The Law Office of Andrew Shubin’s civil rights violation attorneys represent victims in these kinds of cases.  We can help you understand more about what parts of the complaint may be publicly available and how to protect your privacy during a Title IX lawsuit.  For a free legal consultation on your case, call our law offices today at (814) 826-3586.


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