Title IX prohibits sex discrimination by any educational institution or activity that receives federal funds. Most often associated with equity in athletics, Title IX reaches far beyond the playing field. Here is what employees need to know about Title IX.
Several federal laws protect employees against discrimination. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment based on sex, race, color, national origin, religion, or disability. Enforcement begins with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Title IX is part of the laws that govern education in the U.S., and it is enforced by the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education.
Institutions and programs subject to Title IX must appoint a Title IX coordinator, who is responsible for investigating complaints, complying with regulations (like providing notice of complaint procedures to students and employees), scheduling hearings, and maintaining records and files.
Additionally, many staff positions at schools, colleges, and universities that place employees in positions of responsibility make staff in those positions “responsible employees” under Title IX. These individuals are required to report incidents of sex discrimination—including harassment, assault, bullying, and other sex-based discrimination—to the institution’s Title IX office.
One of the most important things employees need to know about Title IX is that Title IX coordinators and responsible employees are required to report an incident of sexual harassment, sexual assault, gender based bullying, or other sex discrimination to the Title IX office of the institution. The institution is then required to initiate an investigation.
Victims of sexual assault at educational institutions who do not want to launch an investigation or file a formal complaint can talk to a confidential employee, like a counselor. Designated confidential employees are not required to report incidents reported to them.
Employees, including student workers, parents, vendors, and anyone else who interacts with an institution or program subject to Title IX are covered by the law. Anyone who has been a victim of sex discrimination or sexual violence perpetrated by someone affiliated with the school or on the school’s grounds can file a complaint with the Title IX office of the institution or directly with the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education.
Where the victim also reports the incident as a crime, an institution’s responsibility to investigate doesn’t end if prosecutors elect not to bring charges, or if the accused is acquitted of a crime. The school must complete its own investigation and take such steps as it deems necessary to ensure that its environment is free of sex discrimination.
Talking about the incident with an experienced Title IX lawyer can help victims navigate the rules for filing complaints, and determine whether and when to file a lawsuit.