Title IX Retaliation

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Key Takeaways: 

  • Title IX, part of the Education Amendments of 1972, is a federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in educational programs and activities that receive federal funding.
  • Title IX also protects against retaliation, ensuring that individuals who report violations are not subjected to intimidation, threats, or adverse consequences.
  • Prohibited activities under Title IX include a broad range of sex-based and gender-based harassment, such as sexual violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • To establish a Title IX retaliation claim, it must be shown that the complainant was engaged in protected activities, the institution knew about these activities, and the complainant faced adverse action due to these activities.
  • Title IX’s protection extends to all individuals involved, ensuring fairness and due process in the grievance and investigative process.

Title IX protects against sex-based discrimination in schools, universities, and other educational settings. Equally important are legal prohibitions against Title IX retaliations meant to silence or punish individuals who report violations. The experienced Title IX lawyers at Warner Law Offices, PLLC, can help you navigate this complex area of the law. We are standing by to make sure you know your full legal rights and options. 

Title IX is an important law protecting against sex-based discrimination in educational settings. To ensure that victims of prohibited discrimination are not deterred, the law also protects against Title IX retaliation when they come forward to report a violation. 

If retaliatory acts go unchecked, victims of discrimination may be afraid to report violations in the future. Warner Law Offices, PLLC, is committed to protecting victims of sexual abuse, harassment, hazing, bullying in schools, and discrimination. Do not hesitate to seek legal representation if you believe you are the victim of Title IX retaliation.

We offer free, confidential consultations. Call (304) 345-6789 or complete our online contact form to schedule your appointment today.

What Is Title IX?

Part of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX is a landmark federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in educational programs and activities receiving federal funding or assistance. The core language of the statute provides that:

“[N]o person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any academic, extracurricular, research, occupational training, or other education program or activity operated by a recipient which receives federal financial assistance.”

The statute then goes on to list a number of specific restrictions. For example, recipients of federal assistance must not on the basis of sex:

  • Treat one person differently from another in determining whether such person satisfies any requirement or condition for the provision of such aid, benefit, or service.
  • Provide different aid, benefits, or services or provide aid, benefits, or services in a different manner.
  • Deny any person any such aid, benefit, or service.
  • Subject any person to separate or different rules of behavior, sanctions, or other treatment.
  • Apply any rule concerning the domicile or residence of a student or applicant, including eligibility for in-state fees and tuition.
  • Aid or perpetuate discrimination against any person by providing significant assistance to any agency, organization, or person that discriminates on the basis of sex in providing any aid, benefit, or service to students or employees.
  • Otherwise limit any person in the enjoyment of any right, privilege, advantage, or opportunity.

What Counts as Prohibited Sex-Based Harassment?

The scope of prohibited activities or violations under Title IX is broad. Beyond the statutory language quoted above, the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education explains that educational institutions must take steps to protect against sexual harassment and gender-based harassment. Sexual harassment includes:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Sexual violence, such as rape and sexual assault
  • Verbal, nonverbal, and physical conduct of a sexual nature

Prohibited sex-based and gender-based harassment also includes mistreatment based on someone’s failure to adhere to stereotypes associated with their gender or sex. Title IX protects men and women alike. It also prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

What Is Title IX Retaliation?

Title IX is largely enforced by ensuring that victims who report violations are protected against retaliation. Retaliation can manifest in various forms, including intimidation, threats, coercion, and adverse employment or educational outcomes. The regulation prohibiting retaliation is clear: 

“No recipient [of federal aid] . . . may intimidate, threaten, coerce, or discriminate against any individual for the purpose of interfering with any right or privilege secured by Title IX . . . because the individual has made a report or complaint, testified, assisted, or participated . . . in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under this part.”

Educational institutions must actively enforce Title IX and ensure an environment that encourages reporting violations. If you experience any form of retaliation after reporting a Title IX violation, do not be afraid to speak up. If you feel that you are being intimate or coerced into silence, consult with an experienced Title IX lawyer in West Virginia as soon as possible. Our law office offers free, confidential consultations.  

According to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, to bring a case for Title IX retaliation, four elements must be shown:

  1. The complainant engaged in activities or asserted rights protected under Title IX.
  2. The recipient knew of the protected activity.
  3. The recipient thereafter subjected the person to adverse action, treatment, or conditions.
  4. There is a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse action, treatment, or conditions.

Our Title IX lawyers are standing by to evaluate the facts of your case and build the strongest possible claim on your behalf. Known for our aggressive advocacy, the top-tier legal team at Warner Law Offices, PLLC, is ready to defend your rights under Title IX.

Does Title IX Protect Accused Individuals from Retaliation?

Yes. Title IX aims to create a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all covered individuals. It also aims to ensure fairness in the grievance and investigative process. As the Department of Education has explained, “[accused individuals] are treated as responsible only after receiving due process and fundamental fairness.” 

Title IX Retaliation Examples

Retaliation can manifest in various scenarios within educational institutions. This section explores a few scenarios that involve illegal Title IX retaliation. 

Student vs. Educators

Consider a scenario where a student reports sexual harassment by a teacher or professor. If the accused responds by punishing the student with poor grades, excluding them from academic opportunities, or unwarranted disciplinary actions, a violation has occurred. A report should be made to the official Title IX coordinator at the school or university. 

Employee vs. Institution

In cases where an employee within an educational institution reports a Title IX violation, they are shielded from retaliation by their employer. 

For example, in Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education, Roderick Jackson, a teacher in a public school sued for retaliation. He had complained about sex discrimination in the high school’s athletic program after discovering that the girls’ team was not receiving equal funding and access to athletic equipment and facilities.   

The Supreme Court held that “Title IX encompasses claims of retaliation . . . where the funding recipient retaliates against an individual because he has complained about sex discrimination.” Even though Jackson was not the direct victim of discrimination, he was protected as the person who reported the violation.

Student vs. Institution

Students who file complaints against their schools are also protected from retaliation. For example, in Grabowski v. Arizona Board of Regents, the Ninth Circuit Court found that Title IX applies to cases involving harassment based on perceived sexual orientation. Michael Grabowski, a freshman at the University of Arizona, complained that his teammates bullied him with sexual and homophobic slurs. 

After being dismissed from the track team and losing his scholarship, Grabowski made a Title IX retaliation claim. The Ninth Circuit held in his favor. Its decision relied on Bostock v. Clayton County, a Supreme Court interpretation of Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination based on sexuality and gender identity in the workplace, which has also been widely interpreted as applying to Title IX. 

Student vs. Student

Many cases involve discrimination and retaliation among students. Schools and universities must not turn a blind eye. They should take proactive measures to prevent and address this behavior. 

Wrongful Termination

Wrongful termination arising from a Title IX case is a significant concern. Much like in the case of Roderick Jackson discussed above, Lindy Vivas was fired from her coaching role at Fresno State University just two years after coaching the volleyball team during its best season ever. Vivas sued in civil court, alleging that the University terminated her contract after she advocated for female athletes and their equal access to facilities at the school. The University claimed Vivas did not meet performance goals. Ultimately, the jury awarded Vivas $ 5.85 million

Contact the Experienced Title IX Attorneys at Warner Law Offices

Whether you are a student, educator, or employee who has experienced a violation or retaliation under Title IX, the knowledgeable and compassionate attorneys at Warner Law Offices are here for you. We handle Title IX cases throughout West Virginia and beyond. 

Learn more about the high quality of our services by exploring our client testimonials. Call our office at (304) 345-6789 or fill out our online contact form to schedule your free, confidential consultation. 

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Bobby Warner

Bobby has received many accolades throughout the years from both his peers in the legal community, as well as the media. The National Trial Lawyers association named Bobby a Top 100 Trial Lawyer and he has been selected as a Member of the Nation’s Top One Percent. Additionally, he has been named a Best Attorneys of America by Rue Ratings, which also named Warner Law Offices to its Best Law Firms of America.