The University of Michigan recently announced a new Protection from Retaliation Policy implemented on the heels of a Title IX sexual misconduct investigation against former Provost Philbert. The policy is designed to protect students and staff who report wrongful conduct, sexual or otherwise.
There's no hard and fast rule for what a school might consider retaliation; it's very case-specific. Usually, it falls under the umbrella of “materially adverse actions” that cause or threaten to cause significant injury or harm to an impacted party… such that it would likely dissuade a reasonable member of the faculty, staff, or student body from making or supporting a good-faith report of University-related misconduct. Retaliation against a student, for example, might be a low grade, suspension, or something more subtle. Retaliation against faculty might be, for example, being reassigned to a less favorable position, not having your employment renewed, or termination.
The specific facts at hand will determine if it can be demonstrated that a party is being retaliated against as opposed to the apparent adverse action being unrelated to the reporting of misconduct. An attorney can best help you understand your circumstances and potential options moving forward.
What to Do If You've Been Accused
As much as retaliation can significantly impact a student or faculty member, sexual misconduct allegations themselves can rob you of an education and future career opportunities. If accused, you must understand the potential harsh reality so that proper steps can be taken to address the concerns. You must understand that the school is not your friend, and that includes the Title IX coordinator, the conduct office, investigators, and campus police. You must also understand that in enough cases for it to be a serious concern, and whether unintended or not, the school will violate your due process if you do not have professional help and oversight as to the school's actions and Title IX disciplinary process.
If you or your student is facing an allegation of retaliation or misconduct, it's critical for you to have an experienced attorney-advisor on your side who can help you understand and navigate the process. They should be involved as early as possible in any retaliation or misconduct case.
Experience matters when facing such concerns, and attorney Joseph D. Lento is one of the most experienced attorneys in the nation in cases involving Title IX and other school-related concerns affecting undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, and also college and university professors, faculty, and employees. Contact Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today for help at 888-535-3686.
What Not to Do If You've Been Accused
Knowing what to do if facing misconduct allegations at your school is critical, but knowing what not to do is also equally important.
Don't let panic cause you to rush forward unprepared.
When you're first notified that your school is investigating you for misconduct, you might not even be given all the details. You're in no position to rush headlong into the process, thinking all you have to do is tell your side of the story. The school will follow a very specific set of procedures in a very specific order.
Don't try to contact your accuser.
The last thing you want is for the person who accused you of misconduct to add an allegation of retaliation. Your sincere desire to have a civil conversation might easily be construed as harassment. Don't take any chances and let due process take its course.
Don't try to navigate the school's disciplinary process alone.
While you shouldn't panic, you should immediately contact an experienced student misconduct attorney advisor. Together you can map out how to proceed. Most likely, this is the first time you've been thrust into the disciplinary process, so it's understandable you're not sure how to proceed. Your attorney, however, has made a career of getting to know the process in-depth, and they'll be your best guide.
How an Experienced Student Misconduct Attorney-Advisor Can Help You
Contacting an attorney advisor as soon as possible after your college has informed you of a pending conduct code violation against you gives your advocate time to conduct an independent investigation of the facts, collect additional evidence, and help you plan a strategic defense.
For many years, attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have been defending students across the nation facing alleged misconduct allegations. We can help resolve your situation, too. You have worked too hard and have too much at stake to handle this on your own. Let the expert team at the Lento Law Firm fight for your future. Call 888-535-3686 or contact us online.