Title IX Protects Alumni from Retaliation for Accusing a Professor of Sexual Harassment
A federal judge ruled that our client was protected by Title IX, even though she had already graduated and was no longer a student at the school.
Title IX is best known for requiring colleges and universities to provide equal athletic opportunities for women. The law, however, is much broader. It prohibits all forms of sex discrimination at any school, college, or university that accepts federal funds. It also prohibits retaliation against anyone who complains of sex discrimination or sexual harassment.
After graduating, our client complained that a professor had sexually harassed her when she was a student. She tried to resolve the issue with the school. Ultimately, she filed a lawsuit with three other women who accused the same professor of similar conduct.
The school turned against her. She was no longer invited to alumni events. She was denied career services. A professor who had written glowing reference letters in the past refused to recommend her for a fellowship and admitted in an email that the reason was her claims against a colleague.
We added a claim for retaliation in violation of Title IX. The school argued that Title IX did not apply because our client “was not deprived of educational opportunities” and the retaliation occurred when she “was no longer a student.”
The court disagreed. Title IX applies to any program or activity that receives federal funding, whether directly or indirectly. That includes programs and activities for alumni, such as alumni networking events, lectures, art shows, and career services.
John Howley, Esq.