How Teachers and Coaches Can Defend Against Sexual Harassment
Jun 15th, 2016 by

Katz Marshall & Banks LLP

USA June 14 2016

Over forty years ago, Congress enacted Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) to eliminate sex discrimination in educational institutions. Though much progress has been made since Title IX’s enactment, gender equity issues continue to plague colleges and universities. While responsibility for ensuring full and effective compliance with Title IX requires institutional support and engagement at all levels, teachers and coaches play a particularly important role in ensuring effective enforcement of Title IX, as they are often in the best position to identify discrimination and bring it to the attention of administrators.

Unfortunately, however, it is not uncommon for teachers or coaches to face pushback from their educational institutions if and when they complain about sex discrimination. While such retaliatory acts can be intimidating, teachers and coaches should not be deterred from making Title IX complaints because of fear of retaliation. Indeed, because reporting incidents of discrimination is so vital to Title IX enforcement, the Supreme Court has held that Title IX’s private right action encompasses suits for retaliation – see Jackson v. Birmingham Bd. of Educ., 544 U.S. 167, 174 (2005). That means that institutions covered under Title IX are prohibited from terminating or otherwise discriminating against a teacher or coach because he or she opposed or protested sex discrimination.

Though the statute of limitations within which you must bring a Title IX retaliation claim varies by state, all Title IX retaliation complaints require proof of three elements that teachers or coaches considering filing a complaint should be aware of. Stated simply, these elements are:

read more ………..


Dept. of Education: Yes, Title IX Protects Trans Students
May 13th, 2016 by

The Department of Education is poised to release on Friday its most detailed guidelines to date explaining the obligations that schools receiving public funding have to their transgender students.

These obligations include respecting the gender identity of transgender students by using the student’s preferred name and pronouns, and ensuring them access to sports teams, educational opportunities, and sex-segregated facilities that correspond with their gender identity, according to a draft of the DOE letter obtained by The Advocate. 

The letter, which will be sent Friday to public K-12 schools nationwide, as well as to colleges and universities that receive federal funding, plainly defines a school’s responsibilities to its trans students under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in schools that receive any public funding.

“This prohibition encompasses discrimination based on a student’s gender identity, including discrimination based on a student’s transgender status,” reads the letter. “For purposes of the Department’s enforcement of Title IX, as explained in more detail in this letter, a student’s sex is determined by the student’s gender identity.”

The document further affirms that schools must use a student’s preferred name and pronouns, regardless of what is listed on the student’s official school records or government-issued identification. It notes that transgender individuals — especially young people — are frequently unable to attain updated legal documents, either because the state they live in does not allow such changes, because the student’s parents or guardians are not supportive of their identity, or because updating such documents is often time-consuming, costly, and frequently not an option available to people under the age of 18.

The letter, signed by DOE officials and members of the U.S. Department of Justice, is deemed a “significant guidance document,” though it is not legally binding. It builds on legal interpretations of Title IX’s trans inclusions long advanced by the Obama Administration, and marks the most direct instruction the federal agency has provided to schools since it issued a (much shorter) memo on the same issue in 2014.

The guidance comes in the same week that U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch delivered a historic speech affirming the civil rights of transgender Americans, promising that the Department of Justice and the entire Obama Administration will use its full force to put a stop to anti-transgender discrimination. Lynch (pictured above with Education Secretary Arne Duncan) also announced during that speech that the DOJ had filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against North Carolina for its discriminatory law known as House Bill 2, which, among other things, bars transgender people from using restrooms and locker rooms in government-run spaces that correspond with their gender identity.

The letter goes on to define several basic terms regarding transgender identities, many of which have been widely misinterpreted in the wake of controversial laws in North Carolina and Mississippi, which bar transgender people from using public facilities that match their gender identities.

The draft letter’s “terminology” section reads:

“Gender identity refers to an individual’s internal sense of gender.  A person’s gender identity may be different from or the same as the person’s sex assigned at birth.

Sex assigned at birth refers to the sex designation recorded on an infant’s birth certificate should such a record be provided at birth.

Gender expression refers to how individuals represent their gender to others, often through appearance or behavior.

Transgender describes those individuals whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth. A transgender male is someone who identifies as male but was assigned the sex of female at birth; a transgender female is someone who identifies as female but was assigned the sex of male at birth.”

The letter primarily focuses on the implementation of Title IX’s protections against sex-based discrimination in educational settings, stressing that the Department of Education “treats a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for the purposes of Title IX.”

“This means that a school must not treat transgender students differently from the way it treats other students of the same sex,” continues the draft letter. “For example, a school must treat transgender female students the same way it treats other female students.”

Federal funding, including financial aid, is generally tied to a school’s compliance with Title IX, except in cases where a school has obtained a waiver — often seeking a religious exemption. As a condition of receiving those federal funds, schools must guarantee that they will not “exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat differently on the basis of sex” any student attending the institution.

The letter instructs that a school must accept and affirm a student’s gender identity from the moment administrators are notified by the student’s parent or guardian. This affirmation includes providing equal access to the appropriate sex-segregated activities and spaces, including locker rooms and bathrooms.

Crucially, the letter notes that schools may not require any student to undergo any clinical, surgical, or mental health treatment as a condition of the school accepting the student’s affirmed gender identity. Schools also may not require that transgender students produce an updated birth certificate that reflects their gender identity as a condition of having that identity respected on campus. Such requirements constitute a violation of Title IX, the draft letter explains.

Further, the Department is clear that objections by other students, parents, or faculty to a transgender student’s identity are not legally sufficient reasons to deny that student equal access. In responding to such objections, the school cannot place “a greater burden on transgender students than other students.” Schools may address concerns about privacy in locker rooms or bathrooms by allowing all students access to alternate facilities, like single-stall restrooms, however a school may not require that only the transgender student use a separate facility.

“Discomfort with transgender people expressed by anyone, inside or outside of the school community, cannot justify denying transgender students equal access to educational programs and activities or treating transgender students inconsistent with their gender identity,” reads the draft letter.

The letter goes on to outline “common issues” that schools and administrators may face when working to support transgender students, including ensuring a “safe and nondiscriminatory environment,” using correct names and pronouns, protecting a transgender student’s privacy (including their birth name and sex assigned at birth) and ensuring equal access to sex-segregated activities and facilities.

While Title IX does allow for sex-segregated facilities, athletic teams, housing, and in some cases, entire schools, the draft letter is adamant that transgender students be granted access to such spaces that correspond with their gender identity.

In an example that seems pulled from the headlines of a drawn-out legal battle in Palatine, Illinois, where a transgender girl was barred from using the girl’s locker room and bathroom, and instead required to use a separate staff bathroom to change for class, the letter explains:

“A school may not require transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity (e.g., a school may not require a transgender female student to use the male restroom) or to use individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so. A school may, however, make individual-user facilities available to all students who seek additional privacy.

“For example, the Department may find a violation where a school requires a transgender student to use the nurse’s office to change for gym class. In that scenario, one nondiscriminatory way in which to accommodate any privacy concern would be to allow the transgender student to access the locker room consistent with the student’s gender identity and, if necessary, make other arrangements to increase privacy for all students without isolating or burdening the transgender student, such as rearranging locker assignments, hanging privacy curtains, or providing all students with access to individual-user alternatives.”

Former Women’s Basketball Coach Resolves Claims Against the University of North Florida for $1.25 million
Mar 11th, 2016 by

Former Women’s Basketball Coach Resolves Claims Against the University of North Florida for $1.25 million

Correia & Puth client Mary Tappmeyer settles her Title IX claims of retaliation and sex discrimination against University of North Florida

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA (March 11, 2016) – The University of North Florida (UNF) and its former women’s basketball coach Mary Tappmeyer have reached an agreement to settle Coach Tappmeyer’s sex discrimination and retaliation claims associated with her termination from UNF in March 2015. Washington, D.C. firm Correia & Puth, PLLC represented Coach Tappmeyer in her civil rights claims against UNF, with additional support from Nancy Hogshead-Makar, CEO of Champion Women.

Coach Tappmeyer alleged that UNF terminated her from her long-standing position as UNF women’s basketball coach in March 2015 in retaliation for her complaints of sex discrimination experienced by female student athletes and because of sex discrimination against her. Coach Tappmeyer alleged that UNF provided male basketball recruits academic exceptions to UNF’s admissions requirements, but refused any exceptions to female players; that the women’s basketball team had unequal operating budgets, travel budgets, locker rooms, and training and office facilities as compared to the men’s team; and UNF disparaged the women’s basketball team coaches to current players, recruits, other members of the athletic department, UNF donors, and the UNF community.

Coach Tappmeyer also alleged sex discrimination against her and other female coaches of UNF’s women’s teams. She asserted that while UNF paid her significantly less than her male counterpart, the University held her to more stringent performance standards than her male counterpart, and thwarted her recruitment and coaching efforts.

Coach Tappmeyer was head coach of the women’s basketball team since its inception at UNF in 1991. She alleged that UNF’s actions violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, theEqual Pay Act of 1963, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. UNF will pay Coach Tappmeyer $1,250,000.00 to settle her claims prior to litigation.

“Coach Tappmeyer is a dedicated advocate for her female student athletes. We asserted that she stood up for her players when UNF basically suffocated her program,” stated Linda M. Correia, lead counsel for Coach Tappmeyer. “This resolution sends a clear message that retaliation is not okay when coaches stand up for their players’ equal rights. Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, women and girls have made significant strides in education. Despite great progress, inequities in athletics still remain, and our goal is to end barriers to participation and success in athletics.”

Regarding the resolution of her claims, Coach Tappmeyer stated, “As a life-long player and then coach, I know first-hand how great the game of basketball is and how significant of a role the game can play in a student’s life. Women at UNF deserve an equal opportunity to not only participate in athletics, but also to succeed. I am hopeful UNF will work to get back to the days when it prided itself on gender equity in athletics. Though I wish my time at UNF would have ended differently, I look forward to continuing to root for and support the female Ospreys.”

Nancy Hogshead-Makar had high praise for Tappmeyer, “I applaud Coach Tappmeyer for pursuing her ongoing sex discrimination complaints over the past year. Many coaches would have taken the overt discrimination in the teeth and headed to a new school. Her settlement today opens up new pathways for gender equality at the University of North Florida and across the country.”

For more information on this case, contact Correia & Puth at (202) 602-6500

*  *  *

Correia & Puth, PLLC, is a Washington, DC law firm dedicated solely to representing employees confronting workplace discrimination, retaliation, and unfair treatment. The firm is a recognized, national leader on using Title IX as an effective mechanism for maintaining educational environments free from discrimination and retaliation.

EEOC Files First-Ever Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawsuits
Mar 4th, 2016 by

In a historic move, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed its first two lawsuits for discrimination based on an employee’s sexual orientation.

In most states, it is still legal for employers to fire workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity; according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), an LGBT rights advocacy group, only 19 states and D.C. currently prohibit both of these discriminations. Because there are no federal protections for LGBT employees, the EEOC has called the cases “groundbreaking.”

read more ………… 

Settlement Reached with Palatine, Ill., Township High School District 211 to Remedy Transgender Discrimination
Dec 4th, 2015 by

Settlement Reached with Palatine, Ill., Township High School District 211 to Remedy Transgender Discrimination


The U.S. Department of Education announced today that it has entered into a resolution agreement with Township High School District 211 based in Palatine, Illinois, after finding the district in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 for discriminating against a transgender high school student by denying her access to the girls’ locker rooms.

The case marked the first time that the Department’s Office for Civil Rights had found a school district in violation of civil rights laws over transgender issues.

“I commend the Board of Education of Township High School District 211 for taking steps necessary to protect civil rights as well as student privacy,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. “We are grateful that the board and superintendent chose to come into full compliance with our nation’s civil rights laws. And, we look forward to partnering with the district to assure that the terms of this agreement are fully and effectively implemented.”

The events leading up to today’s announcement began in earnest on Nov. 2 when OCR issued a letter of findings to the district. The letter notified the district that it was in violation of Title IX, which protects all students, including transgender students, from sex discrimination in K-12 districts that receive federal funding.

OCR concluded that the district violated Title IX because, for more than two school years, the district had denied a transgender student access to the girls’ locker rooms at her high school, and offered her only separate facilities to change clothes for her athletics activities and mandatory physical education classes in order to satisfy the graduation requirements and receive a high school diploma.

The office noted that the district had previously designated the student as female in its computer system. And, that it had given the student unlimited access to all girls’ restrooms in the school and allowed her to participate in girls’ athletics.

At a special meeting Wednesday night, the District 211 school board approved a settlement to address the issues raised in OCR’s letter of findings and begin the process to bring the district in compliance with civil rights laws.

Under the agreement, the district agreed to take the following specific actions:

  • Provide the student with access to the girls’ locker rooms at her high school based on the student’s request to change in private changing stations in the girls’ locker rooms.
  • Protect the privacy of its students by installing sufficient privacy curtains within the girls’ locker rooms at the high school to accommodate the transgender student and any students who wish to be assured of privacy.
  • Provide a reasonable alternative for any student requesting additional privacy—beyond the privacy afforded by the privacy curtains—in the girls’ locker rooms. Examples could include use of another private area or assignment of a locker in near proximity to the office of a teacher or coach.
  • Coordinate with hosts of off-campus, district-sponsored activities to arrange for the transgender student to be provided access to facilities for female students.
  • Engage a consultant (who may be a district employee) with expertise in child and adolescent gender identity, including transgender and gender nonconforming youth, to support and assist the district in implementing the resolution agreement.
  • Establish a support team, if requested by the transgender student and her parents, to ensure that she has access and the opportunity to participate in all district programs and activities, and is otherwise protected from gender-based discrimination at school.
  • Adopt and publish a revised notice of nondiscrimination on the basis of sex. And,
  • Provide OCR with a copy or detailed description of all gender-based discrimination or harassment complaints or incidents.

A copy of the Nov. 2 letter of findings can be found here, and the agreement is posted here.

OCR’s mission is to ensure equal access to education and promote educational excellence throughout the nation through the vigorous enforcement of civil rights. OCR is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination by educational institutions on the basis of disability, race, color, national origin, sex, and age, as well as the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act of 2001.

For details on how OCR handles civil rights cases, please click here.

»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa