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Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, as codified under 20 U.S. Code § 1681(a), states, "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." Nearly all private colleges and universities are required to abide by Title IX regulations because they receive federal funding through federal financial aid programs used by their students.
Any person who believes there has been an act of discrimination on the basis of sex against any person or group in an education program or activity that receives federal financial assistance can file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the agency within the United States Department of Education (ED) with the mission to "ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence through vigorous enforcement of civil rights in our nation’s schools." Victims can file lawsuits in federal court against offending institutions.
Were you or the loved one the victim of discrimination on the basis of sex at an institution of higher learning in Pennsylvania that receives federal financial assistance? You will want to contact Ciccarelli Law Offices as soon as possible.
Our experienced personal injury attorneys in West Chester represent clients in Delaware County, Chester County, Montgomery County, Lancaster County, and the greater Philadelphia area. You can have our lawyers provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (610) 719-3190 to receive a free initial consultation.
The ED website states that OCR "vigorously enforces Title IX to ensure that institutions that receive federal financial assistance from ED comply with the law." OCR has the authority to investigate complaints claiming a covered entity—any public or private program that receives federal funds from ED—discriminated based on race, color, national origin, ethnicity, or ancestry; sex; disability; or age.
OCR also has the authority to investigate complaints claiming a covered entity:
Complaints of discrimination must be filed within 180 days of the last act of discrimination. The person submitting the complaint will be asked whether he or she tried to resolve the matter using a grievance procedure or by filing with another agency, such as an institutional grievance procedure or Clery Act complaint).
Even if 180 days have passed since the last act of discrimination, an individual may still want to file a complaint as OCR has the power to extend the 180-day period when a complainant can show "good cause." OCR will open an investigation and either make a determination of insufficient evidence (allegations not supported by investigation) or non-compliance.
When OCR determines that the preponderance of the evidence supports a conclusion that an institution failed to comply with an applicable regulation or regulations, OCR will prepare a letter of finding and a proposed resolution agreement. The resolution agreement must include action steps that, when implemented, will remedy both the individual discrimination at issue as well as any systemic discrimination, and OCR attempt to negotiate the resolution agreement with the institution.
If the institution is unwilling to negotiate a voluntary resolution agreement after a non-compliance determination, OCR can initiate administrative enforcement measures that suspend or terminate the institution's federal financial assistance or possibly refer the case to the Department of Justice.
A lawsuit may take much longer to resolve, but it also gives a victim much greater control over the lawsuit as opposed to a complaint. Victims who file Title IX lawsuits can receive greater, more specific types of relief than they might receive from complaints.
A victim also has more time to file a lawsuit than a complaint, as the statute of limitations is two years for a student in Pennsylvania to file a Title IX lawsuit. Title IX lawsuits are frequently cases of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation that may include, but are not limited to:
If a court finds that an institution has violated Title IX, it can provide injunctive relief—a court order that forces a college or university to end an offending practice or take a specific action to prevent offending actions—as well as possible compensation to the victim. Both parties will have the right to appeal.
Title IX and Sex Discrimination | ED — Visit this section of the ED website to learn more about the scope of Title IX and OCR’s enforcement of Title IX. You can also find a link to ED Title IX regulations in Volume 34 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 106. The website also allows you to access electronic and PDF versions of OCR complaint forms.
Know Your IX | Empowering Students to Stop Sexual Violence — Know Your IX identifies itself as "a survivor- and youth-led project of Advocates for Youth that aims to empower students to end sexual and dating violence in their schools." Visit this website to learn more about your rights under Title IX and ways you can take action. You can also find various resources for survivors as well as friends and family.
If you believe you or a loved one was the victim of discrimination at an institution of higher learning in Pennsylvania that receives federal financial assistance, it is in your best interest to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. Ciccarelli Law Offices has office locations in Lancaster, Radnor, Kennett Square, Philadelphia, Springfield, Malvern, King of Prussia, and Plymouth Square.
Our West Chester personal injury lawyers work as a team to help clients achieve the most favorable possible outcomes to their cases. Call (610) 719-3190 or fill out an online contact form to have our attorneys review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a free, no obligation consultation.