Before beginning, it is important to note that Title IX is not intended to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity but on a person’s original chromosomes or assigned gender at birth. However, if a non-gender conforming person, such as a trans person, gets discriminated against for not conforming to sex-based stereotypes, this is sexual discrimination.
In this way, Title IX, in its most basic essence, protects gender non-conforming people, and investigators will conduct a probe if they bring a charge. But what triggers a Title IX investigation?
Title IX explicitly prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs, so any aspect of a federally funded school or education program is subject to a Title IX investigation. One of the most common causes of a Title IX investigation is when a charge gets brought to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) stating that sexual harassment is occurring in the program. For example, if a student, or several students, claims the university is doing nothing about complaints of rampant sexual assault, this can trigger a Title IX investigation.
The implication is that the university is turning a blind eye to sex discrimination cases and is therefore engaging in said discrimination. It is also a university’s duty to protect its students, which can trigger an entirely different charge.
As mentioned, any part of a federally funded education program can be up for investigation. Another common charge is discriminatory hiring practices, where a particular group may feel they’re not getting hired based on their sex. For example, a program’s description or interview process may have sex/gender-based language that implies a specific gender they’re looking to hire. Or there may be a significantly disproportionate firing or hiring of a particular gender.
Athletics are also commonly investigated programs. This can be in terms of coaching roles or the sex of participating student-athletes. Overall, Title IX has improved the participation of female athletes drastically. This can mean big trouble for universities that refuse to start a particular athletic program. If it is within the budget, enough students wish to engage in the sport, and there is a program for the opposite sex, it is within the student body’s right to request it.
Other times, it leads back to issues with the hiring process. Perfectly qualified female coaches, in particular, are drastically under-hired, even in female-centered athletic programs.
So, what exactly triggers a Title IX investigation? Ultimately, it is the nature of the charge brought forth. An investigation will almost always occur if a charge gets brought to the OCR stating that sexual discrimination occurred in a federally funded education program. This does not confirm that the claim arose; instead, it gets executed to see if further legal action needs to occur.
No matter the reason for a charge, Title IX cases are complicated, and you need a professional to help you navigate the field. If you believe you’ve been a victim of sexual discrimination in a federally funded education program, contact Title IX attorney Tamara N Holder to get the representation you deserve.