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Title IX protects school employees as well as female students and athletes

The federal law known as Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.  The U.S. Department of Education gives grants of financial assistance to schools and colleges and to certain other entities, including vocational rehabilitation programs.

Although Title IX is perhaps best known for its role in reducing sex discrimination against female students and athletes, the statute also protects employees who work in education.

An employee’s right to invoke Title IX was recognized by the United States Supreme Court in 2005 in Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education.  The Court addressed the claim of a teacher and coach who was fired from his coaching position at a high school for complaining about unequal treatment and access to service and facilities for his female team.  The school unsuccessfully argued that the employee could not claim illegal retaliation because he himself was not a direct victim of sex discrimination.  The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the protection provided by Title IX extends to teachers who suffer reprisals for reporting illegal sex discrimination against their students or them.  It is enough under Title IX for the employee to flag a Title IX complaint on behalf of female students or athletes.

Here is another example of when a teacher is entitled to protection under Title IX.  Consider when a student reports to a trusted professor that she believes another educator is discriminating against her on the basis of sex or is sexually harassing her.  The trusted professor reports this complaint to the Title IX representative.  The trusted professor then faces negative job actions, including a transfer and a reduction in her job duties.  This person is entitled to legal protection from retaliation under Title IX.

Pamela A. Smith
Law Office of Pamela A. Smith
233 Needham Street, Suite 540
Newton, MA 02464


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