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Why Was It Easy for a Judge to Dismiss a Title IX Case Claiming Discrimination After a Fraternity Refused Women Admission?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Feb 08, 2020 | 0 Comments

A federal court judge in Connecticut has dismissed a Title IX allegation that once again strained to aggrandize the scope of the law banning gender discrimination in education settings. That lawsuit had claimed that it was gender discrimination for fraternities to refuse to admit women.

Judge Throws Out Lawsuit Claiming Frats Had to Admit Women

The lawsuit was filed by three women at Yale University. They all claimed that it was gender discrimination – and therefore a violation of Title IX – for fraternities on their campus to refuse to admit women into their ranks.

One of the women also claimed that she was groped at a fraternity party and that her reports of the incident were ignored. That claim was the only part of the lawsuit to survive the motion to dismiss.

The other two women also claimed that they were groped at a frat party, but they did not say that their reports of their incidents were ignored by the school, so their claims were dismissed, as well.

The women argued that being kept from joining all-male fraternities prevented them from accessing alumni groups and networking opportunities that were far more potent than those offered by sororities at the school.

Ruling Based on Title IX's Exemption for Social Greek Life Organizations

There are several important exceptions that are carved into the laws and regulations surrounding Title IX. One of them is codified in the Title IX statute, itself, 20 U.S.C. § 1681. Subsection (a)(6)(A) explicitly exempts the “membership practices” of a “social fraternity or social sorority” from Title IX's gender-based requirements if the organization:

  • Is exempt from paying taxes, and
  • The active membership in the organization primarily consists of students at the college.

Other activities and practices of a fraternity or sorority, however, are subject to Title IX's requirements, if the organization receives federal funding or other financial assistance.

However, because the lawsuit was concerned with the membership of Yale's fraternities, the judge hearing the case found it easy to dismiss it.

Gender Equity Advocates are Overreaching

This particular lawsuit is a strong sign that gender equity and Title IX advocates are beginning to overreach, not because fraternities are somehow hallowed ground for separating the genders, but because Title IX law so clearly provides the answer to the plaintiffs' claims.

Unlike lots of other Title IX lawsuits, which can require extensive research into the nuances of the numerous and ever-changing regulations promulgated by the Department of Education, this one is on the first page, in the very first section, of the Title IX statute. That section clearly states that the law doesn't apply to fraternities.

Title IX Defense Lawyer and National Advisor Joseph D. Lento

Joseph D. Lento is a national Title IX advisor and a defense lawyer who represents students, faculty, or staff members who have been accused of sexual misconduct. As this case exemplifies, alleged victims are filing Title IX claims over more and more perceived slights, including those that are explicitly outside the scope of the statute.

Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686 for help.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience passionately fighting for the futures of his clients. Mr. Lento represents students and others in disciplinary cases and other proceedings at universities and colleges across the United States while concurrently fighting in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, and New Jersey. Mr. Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand universities and colleges across the United States. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide.

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