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Title IX and Employment Discrimination

On Behalf of | May 20, 2019 | Civil Rights

In the same way that educational institutions and school systems must not discriminate in their treatment of men and women’s sports programs, educational institutions and school systems that receive federal funds cannot discriminate on the basis of sex in employment. Accordingly, in appropriate circumstances, a claim under Title IX for employment discrimination, either on its own or along with a discrimination claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or an equal protection violation claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, is an important tool for fighting gender-based employment discrimination.

What Is Title IX?

Title IX provides in pertinent part:

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.

20 U.S.C. § 1681(a). An implied private right of action exists for enforcement of Title IX. Preston v. Commonwealth of Virginia ex rel. New River Community College, 31 F.3d 203, 205-06 (4th Cir. 1994), citing Cannon v. University of Chicago, 441 U.S. 677 (1979). This implied right extends to employment discrimination on the basis of gender by educational institutions receiving federal funds. Id., citing North Haven Board of Education v. Bell, 456 U.S. 512 (1982). Both injunctive relief and damages are available for an action brought to enforce Title IX. Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools, 503 U.S. 60 (1992). 42 U.S.C. § 1988 provides for attorney’s fees and costs in an action to enforce Title IX.

How Does Title IX Apply in Employment Discrimination Claims?

Courts apply the principles of Title VII discrimination when construing claims of sex discrimination under Title IX. Preston v. Commonwealth of Virginia ex rel. New River Valley Community College, 31 F.3d 303, 306-07 (4th Cir. 1994). Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee on the basis of gender. See 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1). The ultimate question in every employment discrimination case involving a claim of disparate treatment is whether the plaintiff was the victim of intentional discrimination. Reeves v. Sanderson Plumbing Prods., Inc., 530 U.S. 133, 153 (2003).

Publicly-funded colleges and universities, public school systems, and private schools which receive any type of federal funds (including federal student loan funds) must comply with the non-discrimination provisions of Title IX. Thus, Title IX can be used to address pay disparity between men and women performing similar jobs, as well as other forms of gender discrimination.

In the past several years, plaintiffs have successfully used Title IX to obtain relief for gender-based employment discrimination by educational institutions. See, e.g., Colley v. Dickenson County Public Schools, Case No. 2:17-cv-3 (W.D. Va.) and Ackerman v. Rector and Board of Visitors of University of Virginia, Case No. 3:17-cv-11 (W.D. Va.).

Fishwick & Associates: Fighting for Discrimination Victims in Virginia

Our firm has expertise in the area of Title IX employment discrimination. If you believe you are a victim of gender discrimination in an educational work environment and would like to explore your options for relief, please contact our office to discuss potential claims.

You can reach us by calling 540-345-5890 or completing our online form.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.