Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts
As a student, you have the right to an education free from sex-based discrimination. Any action that impedes that may be a violation of your Title IX rights.
Part of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX protects against sex-based discrimination at most educational institutions in the country. That includes sexual assault, harassment, and other discriminatory acts. Because sexism and other bigotries are so pervasive, it can be difficult for students to identify Title IX violations when they occur. If you or your child have been a victim of sex-based discrimination at school, speak to an attorney immediately. An experienced lawyer can help you report discrimination and file a Title IX claim so that you can get justice against a discriminatory institution.
Our lawyers are dedicated to helping students hold schools and teachers accountable for Title IX violations. For a free and confidential case evaluation with the Title IX violation attorneys at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin, call today at (814) 826-3586.
What is Title IX?
Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments (Title IX) was passed to put an end to sex-based discrimination in education. This law covers a wide range of areas involved in the educational system. Through Title IX, students can report instances of sexual assault, sexual harassment, discrimination, stalking, and even dating and domestic violence.
Academic institutions and their governing boards are liable under Title IX. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in the Department of Education is the agency that has promulgated the obligations of colleges and universities on the basis of Title IX.
Congress enacted Title IX in order to compel fairness and equality in schools. Before the passage of Title IX, no laws prohibited discrimination in schools. It is hard to think of a time when women could be excluded from teams in sports when there was no law prohibiting harassment on the basis of gender, and when harassing students who did not conform to gender stereotypes was considered an accepted cultural custom. A lot has changed due to the evolving nature in the application of Title IX. There is abundant proof that gender equality is good for society. It is widely accepted that everyone benefits from gender equality and that gender equality promotes economic growth. In spite of all this progress, there is still much ground to cover. Gender discrimination and sexual harassment continue to haunt education. Nearly two-thirds of college students experience sexual harassment. Between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 U.S. students say they have been bullied at school.
Gender discrimination covers various forms of discriminatory behavior including sexual harassment, exclusion on the basis of gender, unequal allocation of federal assistance, among other types of conduct causing discrimination and inequality. If you or your son or daughter or a loved one is a student experiencing gender discrimination, filing a Title IX complaint may be appropriate. If you have been retaliated against or told you are not welcome in a school activity because of your gender, you may also have a cause of action under Title IX.
Who Does Title IX Protect?
Title IX is a gender-neutral law that seeks to eliminate gender discrimination. The mechanics of this law are not intended to protect one specific gender or sexual orientation over another. The focus is typically on whether the inner-workings of the school policies, programs, or distribution of funds at issue discriminate unfairly. For example, in a recent decision, the OCR found that Tulane University violated Title IX in having female-only scholarships.
Under the current legal standard promulgated in the US Supreme Court decision of Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education Title IX is applied liberally to all victims of gender discrimination. It is clear that Title IX evolves over time. The implementation and enforcement of policies prohibiting gender discrimination are intended to be the focus of Title IX. If you are concerned about a policy implemented in your son’s school that appear patently discriminatory, or if a program (regular or extracurricular) benefits a particular group more than others, talk to an experienced gender discrimination attorney before speculating. The complexities of Title IX make it one of the most misunderstood and debated laws. There is a lot of misinformation online funded by special interest groups.
When Can You Pursue a Title IX Claim?
Title IX claims can be brought if you are a student enrolled in an academic institution or if you are employed or affiliated to an academic institution. Title IX covers primarily schools that receive federal funding, even when there are no federal funds allocated to the activity at issue. The Civil Rights Restoration Act extends the application of Title IX to schools that receive federal funds. A Title IX claim can also be brought against a private institution.
The type of school you attend is not as important as the facts surrounding your case. The reason for this is that there is a wide consensus that gender discrimination should not be tolerated in academic settings. As stated by The Secretary of Education Commission on Opportunity in Athletics in 2003, Congress has not expressly specified that Title IX applies to public institutions only. Title IX essentially covers all areas of academic life. There are two main areas where Title IX claims have been successful.
Sports, Athletic, and Academic Opportunities
The impact of Title IX has been significant in sports, particularly in expanding opportunities for female athletes. If you were denied a chance to be in a team and you suspect this was based on silent or underlying discrimination, you should look talk to an attorney, even if you have been told the basis for the decision was unbiased. In these cases, courts will look for proof of disparity between the ratio of opportunities available for males and females and contrast that with the school’s gender ratio. Therefore, the criteria of the athletic team or group within the school to deny you access will not come into play as a basis of non-discrimination.
Funding of Programs and Unequal Pay
Title IX also applies when there is funding or sponsorship for an athlete, team or even an academic program that promotes gender inequality. Title IX has also been found to extend protections to coaches and athletic officials and lawsuits showing unequal pay.
Types of Sex-Based Discrimination that Title IX Protects
The courts reviewing Title IX seem to view this as an organic body of law. The courts first determined that Title IX covers sexual harassment. This was followed by further developments prohibiting gender discrimination based on stereotypes. If your son or daughter is hazed or harassed, even by students who look like him or her, a complaint on the basis of Title IX can be brought against the school. Furthermore, Title IX protections are not limited to sports activities or a specific type of sexual conduct or orientation.
Transgender Students and Title IX
Transgender students may be able to receive protections under Title IX. This is not based on a specific ruling. It is a conclusion based on other cases brought under Title IX. Even though some courts have held that “transgender” is not a protected category under Title IX, there are rulings that give an indication that a plausible legal argument can be brought under Title IX.
In Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, the Supreme Court cited instances of “gender-oriented harassment” occurred as it reviewed evidence that the risk of sexual assault was obvious to school officials. And in Price Waterhouse Coopers v. Hopkins, the Supreme Court indicates a view that gender stereotyping constitutes sex discrimination under Title IX. Some lower and appeals courts appeals have extended this view by holding that gender stereotyping can be proof of same-sex discrimination.
Harassment for Gender Stereotypes or Gender Non-Conformity
A Title IX violation occurs when harassment over sexual orientation student involves sexual conduct and misconceived stereotypes held by peers. This behavior violates Title IX when the harassment is based upon gender nonconformity. The difficulty of proving that harassment of LGBTQ students is a subject of debate among legal scholars. Some argue that federal courts must expand the prohibitions of Title IX to include protection against sexual harassment, irrespective of whether it involves gender stereotyping. Scholarly debates tend to signal issues that courts may try to answer. Therefore, transgender and LGBTQ students facing gender discrimination nationwide should seek a consultation with experienced counsel if they are facing unfair and irritating or hurtful conduct on the basis of their sexual orientation.
Sexual Harassment in Schools and Other Educational Institutions
Title IX has also been effective in combating sexual harassment that occurs in three types of situations: a hostile environment, quid pro quo, and peer to peer. A hostile environment is 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 where the maintenance of employment is conditioned on allowing sexual advances. Peer to peer sexual harassment occurs when a person of authority knows of the harassment and responds with “deliberate indifference” to it.
Pervasive Bullying and Name Calling as a Violation of Title IX
Sexual harassment is generally a violation of civil rights. But it may not be a violation of Title IX if the harassment focuses on sexual orientation. This is generally the rule unless the harassment includes gender-stereotyping and/or advances of a sexual nature. The harassment must be severe and pervasive and not merely amount to “name-calling.”
However, there are different levels of intensity of “name-calling,” and there are instances when school officials and teachers are indifferent in spite of knowing well that students target an LGBTQ or disabled peers and pervasively harass them. When students commit suicide or try to harm themselves or others due to bullying begs the question as to whether the conduct amounts to a Title IX violation. A skilled Title IX violation attorney is prepared to look at this question with his professional insight. Pervasive bullying and name calling can meet the criteria needed to bring a successful Title IX complaint as well as a lawsuit for other civil rights violations. A dedicated Title IX violation attorney will be able to guide you as to the best course of action and if there is a basis to pursue a legal claim.
How to Identify a Title IX Violation
Now that you understand what a Title IX violation is in theory, it is important to learn how to identify it when a school engages in discrimination. Often, it is difficult for students to identify Title IX violations, as they are not always obvious. If you and your child believe their rights have been violated but are unsure, consult a Title IX violation attorney immediately.
Title IX violations range from sexual harassment or assault to the use of inappropriate jokes aimed at a student’s sex or gender. In a school setting, it can be challenging to determine what content is a legitimate part of a lesson and what is discriminatory against certain students. In addition, children can have difficulty accepting that a teacher, administrator, or school has violated their rights and discriminated against them based on their sex or gender.
When identifying whether certain actions violated your rights, speak to a Title IX violation attorney. Title IX violations often leave students feeling uncomfortable, angry, or scared. Think about how you felt when a teacher spoke to you in a certain way or when you were denied access to certain activities based on your gender. What might have seemed like a harmless comment or excuse at first could be a Title IX violation.
Consult an attorney if a teacher or administrator’s actions have left you feeling uncomfortable or discriminated against based on your sex or gender. An experienced lawyer can assess your case and help you determine whether or not your rights have been violated. Chances are if you are consulting a Title IX violation attorney, an injustice happened that is worth litigating.
Employment Discrimination in Education Prohibited Under Title IX
Although a majority of employment discrimination cases can be brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, many of those claims can also be brought under Title IX and there can be some instances when both claims can be brought concurrently (except it has been held money damages cannot be sought under both causes of action.) If you are employed at an academic institution and you can bring a claim on the basis of both Title IX and Title VII.
How to Report a Title IX Violation
Reporting a Title IX can feel overwhelming for students. Standing up for yourself against a discriminatory school can be scary. That is why it is important to have an experienced lawyer by your side. Your Title IX violation attorney can help you properly report discrimination and ensure you take the necessary steps to hold a school or teacher accountable.
After a Title IX violation, you may be wary of reporting discrimination directly to your school. While that is understandable, it can benefit you in the future to use your school’s method for reporting grievances after a Title IX violation. If you feel uncomfortable doing so, ask your attorney for help. Creating documentation of discrimination as soon as possible is important, especially if you plan on suing a teacher or school for a Title IX violation in the future.
It is important to report a Title IX violation when it happens. For the Office of Civil Rights to investigate a claim, victims must report acts of discrimination within 180 days. The deadline to file a report with the OCR is shorter if students have filed a complaint with the school in question. In that case, victims have just 60 days to file. This can be challenging, especially if victims cannot identify Title IX violations immediately. To report a school’s discrimination to the OCR within the necessary timeframe, victims can enlist help from an experienced attorney.
Reporting a Title IX violation to the OCR can be complicated. In a complaint, students must include specific details about the discrimination they experienced and the parties responsible. Your attorney can help you complete a thorough complaint that properly illustrates how a school violated your Title IX rights.
Can You Get in Trouble for Reporting Title IX Violations?
Coming forward about Title IX violations can be difficult, especially for young students who have faced discrimination from teachers they trusted. If you are delaying speaking to a Title IX violation attorney out of fear of retaliation, do not be afraid. Schools cannot retaliate against students who report Title IX violations.
Title IX provides whistleblower protection. A whistleblower is a person who informs figures of authority about incidents of Title IX violations. The Supreme Court ruling in Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education extended the scope of Title IX to protect whistleblowers in cases of gender discrimination. This ruling has important implications for school officials and students because they are protected from liability if they report problems of sexual assault, sexual harassment, violence, and discrimination within an academic institution.
Essentially, schools and other intuitions subject to Title IX cannot retaliate against a victim of discrimination. Any harassment or negative messages from a school or school administration should be passed along to your attorney right away. Retaliating against a student standing up for themselves and reporting a Title IX violation is a further violation of their rights. The following are common examples of retaliation after a student reports a Title IX violation:
- Preventing a student from engaging in extracurricular
- Threatening suspension against a student
- Threatening expulsion against a student
- Unfairly grading a student’s work
If you or your child were retaliated against in any way after reporting discrimination at school, inform your Title IX attorney immediately.
How to File a Title IX Lawsuit
If your Title IX rights were violated and you experienced sex-based discrimination at school, you may be able to file a lawsuit against those responsible. Pursuing litigation against powerful institutions can be challenging, so hiring an experienced Title IX violation attorney is important if you intend to sue.
To file a successful Title IX lawsuit against a school or teacher, you must do so by the appropriate deadline. Different states can have their own statutes of limitations for students to file Title IX lawsuits. If you miss the filing deadline, you may be unable to hold a discriminatory school accountable.
When suing for a Title IX violation, it is important to compile compelling evidence demonstrating the discrimination that took place and its effect on you, the victim. This can be in the form of correspondence, eyewitness accounts, school handbooks, and other documents and records.
Filing a lawsuit against a discriminatory school or teacher can create complicated feelings for students. They might feel ostracized and alienated from their community all because they are speaking out for what is right. That is why it is important to have an attorney by your side to provide the crucial support you need to pursue litigation against a discriminatory school.
Our Title IX Violation Attorneys Can Help
If you or your child was a victim of discrimination because of gender or sexual orientation, do not hesitate to call The Law Office of Andrew Shubin today. We offer a free case evaluation to those seeking legal guidance and/or representation for Title IX violations and sex-based discrimination. To meet with an experienced Title IX violation attorney, call (814) 826-3586.