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A girl that wasted but was to hook up with ….
Jul 23rd, 2013 by

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Back to the Basics on Sexual Harassment Prevention
Jul 18th, 2013 by

Attorney Daniel A. Schwartz of  Pullman & Comley, LLC publishes an award-winning blog on legal matters.

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Back to the Basics on Sexual Harassment Prevention

Posted on Jul 18, 2013 08:57 am by Daniel Schwartz

Daniel Schwartz

With every new law that gets passed, it’s easy to overlook the existing requirements that employers must follow.

After all, if employers are just tracking the new laws down without first nailing down compliance with “older” ones, then they are just leaving themselves vulnerable to potential claims.

One area that is easy to overlook is sexual harassment prevention, particularly in Connecticut. Indeed, some employers believe that simply adopting a policy is all that is required.

And they would be wrong.

So, it’s time to go back to the basics and make sure you’ve hit the checklist when it comes to sexual harassment prevention in Connecticut.  Here are some things to consider:

  • All employers with 3 or more employees, must post notices regarding sexual harassment. Rather than tell you what it should say, just download the poster from the CHRO directly.  And it’s free.   (While you’re at it, consider spending some money to buy the all-in-one posters offered by some commercial ventures.)
  • The CHRO suggests (but does not mandate) that the notices also include: A statement concerning the employer’s policies and procedures regarding sexual harassment and a statement concerning the disciplinary action that may be taken if sexual harassment has been committed; and  contact person at the place of employment to whom one can report complaints of sexual harassment or direct questions or concerns regarding sexual harassment.  Those are good ideas. Add them.
  • The notices need to be posted in a prominent location.  A shared lunch room is typical. Don’t bury them in a location that employees will never see.
  • Employers with 50 or more employees must also provide two hours of training and education to all supervisory employees of employees in the State of Connecticut within six months of their assumption of a supervisory position.  If you haven’t done such training, get it done now.  Your company’s lawfirm can do it or, in some instances, an employer’s EPLI carrier may also provide that service.
  • The training has certain requirements, such as that it is done in a classroom-like setting.  Some e-learning programs are now allowed under a 2003 informal opinion of the CHRO.
  • The CHRO recommends (but does not require) that an update of legal requirements and development in the law be given to supervisory employees every three years.  Again, that’s probably a good idea; it demonstrates an employer’s commitment to this issue.
  • The CHRO encourages employers to keep records of such training. I would go further than that to say that employers should strongly consider it.  If faced with a sexual harassment claim, such records may be key evidence to support the employer’s arguments that it took steps to ensure such harassment did not occur by training its employees.

Do you have all of these items under control? If so, you’re a step ahead.  If not, don’t ignore the issue.  Take steps to get the training done (contact me or others if you need referrals to trainers) and make sure your policies and procedures are current.

 

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Another Title IX Retaliation Lawsuit Emerges
Jun 7th, 2013 by

Source: College Sports Business News

Floodgates of litigation opening

Texas A&M’s former head diving coach, Kevin Wright, has filed a Title IX retaliation lawsuit. He was fired in September from his position as head coach. The lawsuit alleges that he was terminated in retaliation for reporting concerns about gender discrimination in athletics.  Wright has filed suit under a Texas whistleblower protection statute that protects state employees.

The floodgates of litigation seem to have opened regarding a new wave of Title IX complaints and administrators across the nation need to take notice. Multiple cases from California have been resolved recently. The prevalence of these cases has been significantly influenced by the Supreme Court’s decision in 2005 in Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education. In that case, the Court ruled that individuals who complain about sex discrimination and are later subjected to some form of retaliatory action have a private right of action for retaliation under Title IX. Jackson involved a former girl’s high school coach who had allegedly been dismissed because of his gender equity advocacy for the girls’ teams.

The Jackson decision was a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court because the prohibition against retaliation was not explicitly set forth in Title IX.

read more …..

 

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YEAR IN REVIEW: Anoka-Hennepin School District seeks to make progress after challenging times
Jan 4th, 2013 by

Source: Press & News

By Mindy Mateuszczyk on January 3, 2013 at 12:03 am

Anoka-Hennepin School District made national headlines for its sexual orientation policy in 2011, which led to breaking more news in 2012 with a consent decree resulting from a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by six students in 2011. Here’s a look at some of the top news stories in the school district for 2012.

 

Anoka-Hennepin School District reaches

lawsuit settlement/Tinglestad resigns

Anoka-Hennepin School Board members approved a consent decree, achieving settlement in two federal investigations and a harassment lawsuit. After more than a dozen mediation sessions and months of research, review and rough drafts, Anoka-Hennepin School District administration announced March 5, that they reached a proposed agreement that involved monetary compensation and specific follow-up measures to be enacted and overseen by the Department of Justice for the next five years.

Represented by Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), six students filed the lawsuit stating the district failed to intervene when they were being bullied over their perceived gender identity or sexual orientation. While some of the students remain in the district, for others, the situation had gotten so bad they ended up leaving altogether for safety.

The settlement also addresses the federal inquiry into the way the district handled issues involving bullying and sexual orientation, which began in 2010. The Justice Department said the agreement was a collaborative effort among the parties to the suit.

The investigation by the departments of Justice and Education found that the school district violated Title IX and Title IV of the Education Code by permitting a hostile environment against students on the basis of sex, including the failure to conform to sex stereotypes. Federal investigators reviewed more than 7,000 district documents and included interviews with more than 60 individuals, including current and former students, parents, district staff, teachers and administrators.

Superintendent Dennis Carlson described the consent decree as “a positive statement of the continuing effort to ensure a welcoming environment for all students and families in our district.”

The 61-page decree describes several steps Anoka-Hennepin will take to enhance its current anti-harassment efforts.

As part of the settlement, the six students were paid a total of $270,000 by the district’s insurance carrier. Additionally, the school district was also required to achieve the following:

• Retain an equity consultant to provide a systemic review and recommend any needed revisions to district policies related to harassment, as well as district procedures relating to the investigation and response to incidents of harassment, parental notification, and tracking of harassment incidents.

• Hire a Title IX/equity coordinator who will implement district policies and procedures, monitor complaints, ensure that district administrators and staff adhere to sex and sexual orientation-based discrimination laws, and identify trends and common areas of concern.

• Work with the equity consultant and Title IX coordinator/equity coordinator to develop improved and effective trainings on harassment for all students and employees who interact with students.

• Ensure that a counselor or other qualified mental health professional will be available during school hours for students in need.

• Hire a mental health consultant to review and access current practices in the district relating to assisting students who are subject to harassment.

• Provide additional specificity to further strengthen its annual anti-bullying survey.

• Expand the district’s harassment-prevention task force formed the summer of 2011 to advise the district regarding how to best foster a positive educational climate for all students.

• Work with the equity consultant to further identify hot spots in district schools where harassment is or becomes problematic, including outdoor locations and on school buses, and work the with equity consultant to develop actions that better align with a safe, welcoming school environment.

• Implement a tracking system that tracks reports of incidents and requires the district to investigate in a timely fashion. Comprehensive data management will be required on every incident.

School Board Chairman Tom Heidemann said the $500,000 cost to implement those steps would come from a specific fund allocated for health and safety areas of the school district. The settlement money will be paid by the school’s insurance. Despite the findings of the Departments of Education and Justice, Heidemann was still unwilling to admit any mistakes on behalf of the district as he reiterated past commentary.

“The district determined through an exhaustive investigation that our administrators and teachers dealt with the harassment reports in a professional, timely and appropriate manner,” said Heidemann. “We are concerned that a monetary settlement negotiated by our insurer, Riverport, leaves the impression that our staff did not take appropriate action.”

The lawsuits were dismissed with the district denying fault or wrongdoing, the district stated in a press release.

As part of the agreement, a five-year partnership was established between the Anoka-Hennepin School District and the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The DOJ and the OCR will monitor and assist the district’s implementation of the consent decree through 2017. Should the district fail to implement the measures or if disputes arise, the issue would end up back in court.

“We approach the monitoring role of the DOJ and OCR in a spirit of collaboration, as it will provide an opportunity for continued communication on this important concern. Our efforts to further address harassment related to sexual orientation will result in positive change in our schools that will extend far beyond the five years of the consent decree,” said Superintendent Carlson.

As a result of the lawsuit, Dist. 6 representative Kathy Tinglestad resigned from her position on the board. She served a little more than three years on the board, first appointed in January 2009, then elected to a full term in November 2009, from which she resigned in April 2012.

Tinglestad cast the lone opposing vote against the consent decree. In a letter she read at the press conference, Tinglestad cited three reasons she voted against the settlement: costs, governance issues and precedent.

As part of the result of the consent decree, the school district also adopted a new policy to replace the sexual orientation policy that promoted neutrality. The new policy called the “respectful learning environment” policy can be read in its entirety here: http://www.anoka.k12.mn.us/education/components/docmgr/default.php?sectiondetailid=233661&fileitem=116008&catfilter=11704

 

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Equal Rights Advocates Demands Answers From SF Bay Area Schools Following Investigative Report
Nov 5th, 2012 by

Equal Rights Advocates Demands Answers From SF Bay Area Schools Following Investigative
Report Revealing Widespread Ignorance of Title IX Requirements

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Noreen Farrell, Executive Directornfarrell@equalrights.org

Work (415.575.2398); cell (510.701.8243)

Equal Rights Advocates Demands Answers From SF Bay Area SchoolsFollowing Investigative Report Revealing Widespread Ignorance of Title IXRequirements

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – November 1, 2012 – Equal Rights Advocates, a national non-profit group with a long history of enforcing civil rights laws in schools and workplaces,announced today its filing of formal information requests with dozens of school districts in the San Francisco Bay Area, requesting information about the school districts’ compliance with Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination by schools.

The action follows on the heels of a troubling report by the investigative unit of NBC Bay Area on October 30, 2012, which revealed widespread ignorance of and non-compliance with basicrequirements of Title IX among 200 Bay Area schools, including its requirement that schools designate a “Title IX coordinator” to receive and investigate and act upon sex discrimination and harassment complaints. The investigation reveals that principals at some Bay Area schoolswere unaware of Title IX and could not identify the school’s Title IX coordinator or if theschool even had one.  See the complete NBC Bay Area video report: “Bay Area SchoolsIgnoring Title IX?”

Equal Rights Advocates Executive Director Noreen Farrell commented: “Ignorance of Title IX’s basic requirements by school leaders forty years after its passage is shameful and it is hurtinggirls. Equal Rights Advocates hears from students and parents across California and the country who don’t know their rights, and have no idea where to turn when they face sexual harassment or other discriminatory treatment at school.”

In response to the disturbing results of the NBC investigation, Equal Rights Advocates is filing formal Public Records Act requests with dozens of school districts in the Bay Area requestingdocuments that evidence or describe their efforts to comply with Title IX, including the identityand contact information for their Title IX coordinators, any written policies and proceduresrelating to compliance with Title IX, documents relating to Title IX training programs, and the districts’ responses to any Title IX complaints that have been filed over the last three years (redacting any personal information to protect the privacy of those who are involved.)

“Our goal in collecting this information will be to identify gaps in Title IX compliance and to encourage San Francisco Bay Area school district officials to take immediate steps to bringtheir districts into compliance,” said Farrell.  ERA Legal Director Jennifer Reisch added:  “ERA intends to enforce Title IX. Millions of girls depend on it.”

About ERA: Equal Rights Advocates (ERA), founded in 1974, is a national civil rights organization dedicated to protecting and expanding economic and educational access and opportunities for women and girls. Through its campaign approach—incorporating publiceducation, legislative advocacy, and litigation—ERA seeks to assist women and girls throughout a life-long continuum: ensuring equality in their educational experience, combating sex discrimination in the workforce, and advocating for workplaces hospitable to working families. To learn more about ERA’s work, visit www.equalrights.org.

For the NBC video of their investigative reports please go to:

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/Nonprofit-Demands-Answers-from-Schools-176881111.html

 

Journalists Expose Lack of Title IX Compliance in Bay Area Schools

from Title IX Blog by EBuz

A team of investigative reporters from the Bay Area NBC News affiliate reported this week that few area schools comply with Title IX’s requirement that districts appoint a Title IX Coordinator to oversee compliance and receive and handle complaints about discrimination and harassment on the basis of sex.  It is one of the law’s most simple and straightforward requirements, yet, school officials seem almost intent on ignoring it, as the results of the journalists’ investigation reveal.   The news team sent this email to over 200 principals in California’s Bay Area:

Most of the principals did not even respond.  And most of those who did had no idea.

Here are some of the responses:

“We don’t have a title ix coordinator”

“I think that would be me….???”

“I’m not sure who you would need to talk to.”

“I have no idea who it is. Try labor relations they should know.”

“i have no idea what title nine is, sorry.”

“I need to know who I am talking to before I send that information.”

 

In a follow up meeting with a spokesperson for one of the districts, the San Francisco Unified School District, the reporters found out the name and position of the district’s Title IX Coordinator, but confirmed that her name and contact information does not appear in writing in any place accessible to someone with a grievance, as the law requires.

A national nonprofit, Equal Rights Advocates, followed up on the news team’s report by adding pressure on school districts to comply.  ERA sent 100 schools a request for confirmation that they have a Title IX Coordinator, and that the person as well as the procedures for filing harassment and discrimination complaints are published and available to the public.  I suspect that they plan to use any non-response as the basis of a complaint to the Department of Education.

 

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