Title IX Advisor for College Employees – Florida

What Is Title IX?

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX“) is a federal civil rights law designed to protect people from discrimination based on their sex in all education programs that receive federal financial assistance. The law requires all schools that receive federal funding to establish procedures to investigate and deal with complaints about sexual harassment, sexual violence, dating, intimate partner violence, and stalking carried out by anyone associated with the school.

A higher-education employee in Florida who is found to have committed a Title IX violation will face severe penalties, including being demoted or fired, which can make it difficult to find new employment. Anyone accused of a Title IX violation needs a sharp legal advocate on their side, someone who understands the Title IX process and can protect their rights. Joseph D. Lento is a seasoned attorney with years of experience defending college employees accused of serious misconduct, including Title IX violations.

To Whom Does Title IX Apply?

While commonly associated with sports programs, Title IX applies to everyone employed by colleges that receive federal funding, even if the funding is limited to only one department or field of study, such as science. All employees of Florida colleges and universities that receive federal funding are subject to Title IX–not just professors and administrators but also coaches, resident advisors, and teaching advisors.

Where and When Does Title IX Apply?

Title IX is applicable to all locations, events, or circumstances over which a school exercises “substantial control.” This includes school-sponsored activities that are held off-campus.

Sexual Harassment Title IX violations

Title IX defines two types of sexual harassment:

  • Quid pro quo, in which a person having authority or power over another makes unwelcome sexual advances or carries out other unwanted sexual verbal or physical conduct.
  • Hostile environment harassment, defined as “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the school's education program or activities.” Hostile environment harassment is broader than quid pro quo.

The Title IX Process

The U.S. Department of Education has established federal regulations laying out the steps a school should follow when it receives a report of a Title IX allegation, starting with a thorough investigation. Though the regulations are very specific, they are carried out by human beings who may make mistakes or misinterpret how the rules should be followed, ultimately jeopardizing an innocent employee's career.

Filing a Complaint With the Title IX Coordinator

All educational institutions that receive federal funds must designate a Title IX coordinator to receive written complaints from any member of the college community who believes they have been subject to a Title IX violation. Schools are only responsible for investigating written complaints that are officially filed through the Title IX coordinator. In order to be investigated, the complaint must be filed within 180 days of the alleged offense.

Notification

A Title IX Coordinator who receives a complaint must promptly provide written notice to the accused (“Respondent”) and send a copy of the notice to the Complainant. Title IX gives the Coordinator the discretion to take remedial actions as soon as they receive the complaint or at any time during the course of the investigation. This is why it's smart for an employee accused of a Title IX violation to consult with an experienced attorney like the Lento Law firm as soon as they receive notice before they face an arbitrary penalty.

Investigation

During the fact-gathering portion of the investigation phase, a Title IX investigator interviews all parties and witnesses and collects written evidence related to the allegation. Relevant evidence may include social media posts, emails, and text messages sent by the parties to one another. The Respondent should be sure to provide the investigator with copies of any materials that may cast doubt on the accusations.

Report of Findings

Next, the Coordinator's office prepares a report summarizing the testimony and evidence and offers its assessment as to whether the allegations are supported by a preponderance of the credible evidence–in other words, whether it is more likely than not that the Respondent behaved the way the Complainant says they did.

The preponderance standard is lower than that in criminal cases, where the factfinder must find proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict. The preponderance standard makes it easier for a university to determine that the accused's behavior violates Title IX.

The report concludes with a recommendation regarding whether penalties are justified. The Title IX Coordinator sends a copy of the report and recommendation to both parties.

Hearing

If either party is dissatisfied with the recommendation, they are allowed to request a live hearing. The hearing will be closed to the public and presided over by an impartial Hearing Officer. Each party may have a lawyer or some other advisor present. The advisor may not participate in the hearing unless the Hearing Officer permits them to cross-examine a witness. Neither the Complainant nor the Respondent are required to submit to cross-examination.

Appeal

Upon receiving the report and recommendation, either party has ten days in which to appeal the finding. The appeal must be based on procedural irregularities–the investigator failed to comply with proper procedures, and that failure affected the outcome; the findings are not based on a preponderance of the evidence presented; or the discovery of new evidence that was not available at the time of the hearing, which would have changed the outcome.

An Experienced Title IX Advisor Can Help You

The Lento Law Firm has helped countless college and university employees navigate the Title IX disciplinary process. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 or contact them online to discuss your options.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.

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