As historically male institutions, universities have at times failed to
provide equal opportunities to women. Congress addressed this issue in
1972 with Title IX of the Education Amendments Act. Though we all agree
women should have the right to attend classes, participate in sports and
extracurriculars, and benefit from all programs a university offers, the
amendment is also interpreted as an enforcement matter in cases of rape,
sexual assault, and sexual harassment.
Since 2011, when the federal government warned publicly-funded schools
of their duty to stop these behaviors, many
students have claimed they were wrongfully accused. Some have already received settlements or jury verdicts in their favor.
These students are nearly all, if not all, men—suggesting that when
Title IX is misused, it may actually cause another form of gender discrimination.
If you are accused of sexual harassment under Title IX, you may find yourself
facing an opaque investigation that affords you few rights. Despite this,
your school has the ability to discipline students found guilty with measures
up to and including expulsion. Your education should not be disrupted
by an unfair decision that is biased toward the accuser. Our attorneys
are here to advocate for you and ensure you understand your rights.
Call our Title IX sexual harassment attorneys at (314) 334-3807 or contact us online. We’ve been defending people’s rights in St. Louis for over 30 years.
Sexual Harassment Under Title IX
What counts as sexual harassment? This question has been asked across multiple
industries, in schools, and among the leaders of organizations after accusations
have surfaced. Especially with the movement centered around holding assault
victims responsible, more stories of harassment have been shared in recent years.
However, harassment isn’t just one off-color joke. It has a legal definition, and where it is not met, an accuser has no
standing to take action—even if they felt uncomfortable.
Sexual harassment, as defined by Title IX, is:
- Unwanted sexual conduct (advances, requests, or physical conduct)
- Continual, serious, and difficult to avoid to the point it affects the
accuser’s college experience
Many accusations can be challenged on one of these points—but to
make an argument, you must first know what the accusation entails.
The Title IX Investigation Process Is Unfair
As with any system, you may expect a few false positives resulting from
Title IX accusations, and assume these discrete events can be dealt with
on a case-by-case basis. In the current system, there seems to be a trend
of ‘guilty’ decisions facing challenges. United Educators
looked at all Title IX complaints made in 2015 and found that 1 in 4 was
challenged by the student who was found guilty. Some chose to make their
complaints through the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which handles Title
IX reports. Others have taken their schools to court alleging an unfair
process led to wrongful punishment.
Because Title IX complaints are investigated within schools rather than
decided by our justice system, there is no universal process for these
complaints. Schools can conduct each case as they see fit. Many times,
this results in an unfair situation in which the accused cannot:
- See the evidence
- Question witnesses, or even know their identities
- Question the complainant
- See the investigative report
These restrictions are a clear violation of due process and are likely
to result in incorrect decisions by the school’s Title IX representative/panel.
Support Against Title IX Accusations
With the deck already stacked against you as it is in Title IX cases, you
must constantly assert your rights and advocate for yourself. This is
easier with an experienced attorney on your team. Having handled many
Title IX cases, we know how the process can work against you—and
where we need to step in to make sure both you and the accuser are given
a fair hearing.
Facing a Title IX complaint can be intimidating, especially if you’ve
seen people face harsh punishments on thin evidentiary grounds. The school
does not guarantee you a representative to help with a complaint, but
the good news is, you are allowed one. Reach out to our team for a free
consultation if you’ve been unfairly accused. We are here to protect
the rights of defendants, whether in front of a judge or a Title IX representative.
Call (314) 334-3807 to reach our St. Louis Title IX defense attorneys.
We can help you face unfair charges.