Accusations of sexual misconduct can ruin a school staff member's career and their future. Even before completing any investigation, the school administration may violate staff rights in trying to appear tough on discrimination. The subject of a Title IX investigation still has rights to privacy, transparency, and a prompt and thorough investigation. If you are a staff member who is under investigation for a Title IX violation, contact Title IX advisor Joseph D. Lento today for assistance.
Title IX Laws for School Staff
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal civil rights law that is intended to protect people from discrimination based on sex in education. This includes educational activities or programs that receive federal funding. Title IX states:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Title IX protections extend to students, staff, and faculty at most educational schools or institutions, including:
- Local school districts,
- Elementary schools,
- Secondary schools,
- Postsecondary institutions,
- Charter schools,
- For-profit schools,
- Museums, and
- Vocational programs.
Discrimination under Title IX can take many forms, including harassment, sexual violence, or unequal opportunity. It may involve discrimination on the basis of gender committed by or against students, staff, and faculty in an educational institution. Unlawful discrimination can involve women, men, or transgender individuals.
Complaints Against School Staff
Title IX sexual misconduct complaints can be made directly against school staff or because of the way staff responded to a sexual misconduct complaint. After a complaint is made against staff, the staff member is still entitled to certain rights and protections by the school or administration, including:
- Right to be treated with respect and dignity;
- Notification of the allegations made against staff;
- Access to the school's Title IX policy;
- Privacy (within the confines of school policy); and
- A prompt and thorough investigation of allegations.
Unfortunately, the administration may not always play by the rules. The administration may prematurely leak private information about the staff member, treat the staff as guilty before any investigation is complete, or refuse to give the staff member information about the accusations or Title IX policy.
Staff Accused of Discrimination
A staff member could be accused of sex discrimination throughout the educational process, and in most areas of the school or university, including:
- Financial assistance;
- Treatment of pregnant and parenting students;
- Discipline; and
Proving allegations of sex discrimination in education can be difficult because discrimination is not always out in the open. Direct evidence of discrimination could be express statements, emails, or policies that directly treat men and women differently. However, discrimination can also be indirect.
For example, a food service staff member in charge of hiring only hires women. An employee asks the staff member why there are no men working in food services at the school and the staff member says, “I've hired men in the past and they always turned out to be bad employees.” This could be an example of direct discrimination.
Staff Accused of Sexual Harassment
Staff of a school may be accused of sexual harassment for things they do or say to students. Sexual harassment is the unwanted and unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can be committed against any student, including male, female, or transgender students. Statistically, sexual harassment is more commonly reported by female students.
Sexual harassment by the victim may be considered something very different by the alleged perpetrator. One person's joke or compliment may be considered unwanted and unwelcome behavior by another. Some examples of sexual harassment include:
- Sexual comments,
- Sexual jokes,
- Sexual gestures,
- Showing sexual photos or illustrations,
- Giving sexual messages or notes,
- Spreading sexual rumors,
- Talking about someone's sexual orientation,
- Spying on someone in a dressing room or showering, or
- Flashing or exposing themselves.
Staff Accused of Sexual Assault
Sexual assault can be the most serious accusation against a staff member at a school, university, or college. Sexual assault can also result in criminal charges, with the possibility of jail, fines, and even registration as a sex offender.
Sexual assault can include sexual battery or rape. Assault can include sexual touching, kissing, fondling, sexual penetration, or oral sex. Sexual assault does not have to include physical force or coercion. Sexual activity with someone under the age of consent means that the other person cannot legally consent to the activity. Even if a staff member claims an underage student pursued the relationship or wanted to have sex, it may still be considered sexual assault.
Educational Staff and Mandatory Reporting
A school cannot function without the many staff who help keep an educational institution open and operating. Unfortunately, staff may not be treated with the same dignity and respect as faculty, administrators, or even students. Staff in an educational institute can include:
- Library staff,
- Custodial staff,
- Administrative assistants,
- Encumbrance clerks,
- Teacher's aides,
- Bus drivers,
- IT support staff,
- Enrollment staff,
- Marketing staff,
- Admissions staff,
- Academic support staff,
- Facilities staff,
- Career services staff,
- Mail staff,
- Campus safety staff,
- Parking staff, and
- Other staff members.
Staff members of a college, university, or school district may also be accused of failing to comply with the school's mandatory reporting requirements. Title IX requires “responsible employees” to report any suspected instances of sexual misconduct. A “reasonable employee,” under Title IX includes any employee:
- Who has the authority to take action to address sexual misconduct,
- Who has been given the duty of reporting sexual misconduct; or
- Whom a student could reasonably believe has the authority or duty.
If you are unsure whether your job is included as a “reasonable employee,” your employer should generally make it clear which staff members are reasonable employees. The school should also inform employees of their reporting responsibilities and the reporting process.
Title IX Advisor to Represent Staff Accused of Title IX Violations
If you are an employee or staff of a college, university, library, school district, or other postsecondary educational institution and have been accused of practicing discriminatory behavior or accused of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, you should immediately consult with an attorney.
Skilled legal professional Joseph D. Lento has extensive experience successfully protecting the rights of clients who have been in your predicament. Preserve your livelihood and contact Title IX advisor Joseph D. Lento today for assistance at 888-535-3686.