What is Considered Unlawful Retaliation Against a Student Under Title IX?

Fighting For Important Causes In State And Federal Courts

Not all vengeful or hostile acts are considered retaliation against a student under Title IX. The anti-retaliation component of Title IX has been debated in courts in that not all adverse or negative actions constitute retaliation. In general, retaliation consists of adverse actions or impacts resulting from or related to a complaint regarding gender discrimination in an education setting. Moreover, gender discrimination under Title IX has a broad definition; it includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, denial of access to athletic groups and other services, unequal pay, and other discriminatory acts occurring in federally funded institutions.

If you’re experiencing retaliation, attorney Andrew Shubin can help. The team of attorneys in the Law Firm of Andrew Shubin has a track record of success in discrimination cases. The process of Title IX complaint filings involves various agencies (US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, and the educational institution) and it requires leadership and command on the law and governing procedural requirements. We can guide you through this difficult process. Our representation of victims in the case against Penn State for the abuses of Jerry Sandusky is an example of effective advocacy in similarly complex actions. We are proud to know that our efforts have contributed to exposing the pervasive culture of silence and indifference to sexual abuse existing in Penn State’s football program for years. Call us at (814) 826-3586.

What is Title IX?

Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex at educational institutions that receive federal funds. Title IX applies to private colleges and universities where students receive federal loans through financial assistance programs. The goal of anti-retaliation statutes under Title IX is to promote good faith reporting of gender discrimination, including situations when there is deliberate indifference regarding gender discrimination.

Retaliation Against Discrimination

There is a vast number of ways in which retaliatory action can be carried out. In Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education, the US Supreme Court emphasized that retaliation is actionable under Title IX only when it’s done in reaction to complaints about differential treatment, stating that:

“Retaliation against a person because that person has complained of sex discrimination is another form of intentional sex discrimination encompassed by Title IX’s private cause of action. Retaliation is, by definition, an intentional act. It is a form of “discrimination” because the complainant is being subjected to differential treatment. Moreover, retaliation is discrimination on the basis of sex because it is an intentional response to the nature of the complaint: an allegation of sex discrimination.”

While retaliatory actions don’t have to be limited to the school environment where the discrimination occurred, courts tend to look for a concrete adverse impact in the students’ professional prospects. For example, if the institution instigates a wrongful prosecution or a misconduct process on issues that are exaggerated or formulated to intimidate or stifle reporting of gender discrimination. Annoyances, bullying, or harassment don’t meet the criteria needed to prove retaliation unless there is a tangible adverse action. Moreover, the desire to punish and prevent good faith reporting has to be a determinative factor motivating or linked to the retaliation.

A seasoned attorney can explain if your situation meets the standard.

Retaliatory Acts

Retaliation may include intimidation, threats, coercion, or adverse educational actions. Retaliatory acts are illegal even when an underlying report made in good faith was not substantiated. Retaliation does not include good faith actions pursued in response to a report of prohibited conduct.

Retaliatory Acts Against Students

Retaliation against students under Title IX can be hard to prove. There are insidious ways in which educators can impact a student’s life. Also, the power dynamics present in teacher-student relationships can be very subjective. Thus, you should talk to an attorney who can look at whether the events that ensued after your report was presented or if someone you know made a report and retaliation can be linked thereon.

Educators are the gatekeepers of a students’ career—they can propel professional growth with a reference or an opportunity to take leadership roles in projects. Whether it’s refusing to give a positive letter of recommendation or intentionally denying access to opportunities for academic growth, the student facing retaliation will have to establish that there are actions proximity or links between the report and school officials’ efforts to impede, nullify, or put into question the credible reports to hide the discriminatory actions. Our experienced discrimination lawyers are familiar with these tactics. We take the time to hear our clients and work with them to consider what is the best course of action.

How is Unlawful Retaliation Proven in a Lawsuit?

Victims of Title IX retaliation bring their claims to court. There are no agency pre-certification requirements unlike in other discrimination claims in Pennsylvania. A lawyer representing a client who encountered retaliation has to establish what is known as a “Prima Facie Case” of the actions, demonstrating they suffered adverse actions that correlate to presenting the reports of discrimination. Experienced discrimination attorneys can explain how this process will take place and give you a sense of the length of time.

Title IX is known for large monetary awards because non-economic losses such as punitive or punishment awards are allowed. In cases of retaliation, the quantifiable adverse impact constitutes part of the losses of present and future professional and academic opportunities. A skilled retaliation attorney can go through the details of this part of the process with you.

Talk to Experienced Retaliation Lawyer Andrew Shubin

Our extensive experience concerning retaliation is that there are great pressures to maintain the status quo by denying allegations or putting pressure on students to be silent. If you’re concerned that there is ongoing deliberate indifference, you should talk to an attorney. Learn more about your rights today. Call attorney Andrew Shubin to schedule a free and confidential consultation. Our phone number is (814) 826-3586.


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