Sexual assault and misconduct are huge issues at Idaho colleges and universities. Because of this, federal law and regulations under the federal law Title IX mandate exactly how these schools must respond to allegations. This law was enacted to ensure that victims were protected and got the help that they needed.
Unfortunately, college employees can sometimes find themselves in situations where they've been falsely accused of sexual harassment or other types of misconduct. Once that happens, they get lost in a massive and gargantuan system of hearings and investigations run by the college that are not always fully transparent.
If you're the subject of a Title IX sexual misconduct allegation, you have the right to have an advisor guide you throughout the entire process. Experienced Title IX attorney Joseph Lento has years of experience in this area and can help protect your job and future.
What is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits sexual discrimination at all schools in the United States that accept federal funding. This means that the law applies to K-12 public schools as well as publicly-funded colleges and universities in Idaho. Even though private colleges and universities are not sponsored by the state or federal government, nearly every single one of them receives some sort of federal funding in the form of Pell grants, federal student loans, work-study programs, and research grants. Because of this, these schools must follow Title IX requirements as well.
If a college in Idaho receives federal funding, it must avoid sexual discrimination in hiring, employment, admissions, and athletics. The US Department of Education has also created regulations that dictate how schools need to respond to Title IX allegations. They also list out the many protections that the schools must offer both the accused and the potential victims. Because of this, it can be difficult to navigate this entire process without an experienced Title IX attorney by your side.
Does Title IX Apply to Me?
Title IX applies to students as well as to the employees of Title IX institutions, including professors, administration, faculty, trainers, coaches, administrators, resident assistants, and other staff. Part-time and full-time employees can all be subject to Title IX disciplinary actions.
Title IX prohibits various types of sexual misconduct, including the following:
- Domestic violence
- Sexual assault, including nonconsensual sexual contact, statutory rape
- Sexual harassment
- Dating or intimate partner violence
How Does Title IX Work?
Under Title IX, colleges and universities need to investigate serious criminal allegations. This must happen, even if no student or employee makes an official complaint. Because of this, university administrations are sometimes overzealous in their need to investigate. Universities are not set up to handle complex criminal investigations, and they often don't know how to do disciplinary hearings in a manner that affords the defendant their due process rights.
A Title IX action begins when a complaint is filed with the school's Title IX coordinator. Once the coordinator reviews the details of the complaint, they will decide whether there are sufficient grounds to pursue an action against you.
If the Title IX coordinator decides to move forward with the investigation, they need to notify you and any other respondents. This notification needs to include the details about the complaint against you, the Title IX violations involved, and the complainant's name. It will also inform you of your rights, and it will let you know about any possible sanctions that could happen. They will also inform you that if you don't participate in the investigation or the hearing, the action will continue to go forward without you.
The Title IX coordinator will appoint an investigator to meet with you and the accuser. They'll review any evidence and interview witnesses. This is exactly the point where you need to retain a Title IX attorney advisor if you haven't done so already. This advisor will do everything to make sure that the investigator looks at all exculpatory evidence before issuing their findings.
Once the investigation is complete, the investigator will issue a full report of their findings. Both you and the petitioner will have the chance to review and respond to the report, and you'll be able to offer changes before the investigator sends the report to the Title IX coordinator.
At this point, the action will move into the hearing phase. At a Title IX hearing, you have the right to be represented by an attorney advisor. You and your attorney advisor will also have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses, challenge the evidence, and introduce your own evidence and witnesses.
In order for you to be found guilty, the panel of arbitrators (or the single decision-maker) must find that you are responsible by a “preponderance of the evidence” measure, indicating that it's more than likely that you're responsible for the Title IX violation. The problem here is that this measure is a lower bar than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” bar used in criminal trials.
Once the hearing determination has been made, both parties can appeal the decision, usually within ten business days. You can only file an appeal under very specific circumstances, like if there is new evidence in the case, bias on the part of one of the people making a decision in the case, or if a mistake was made under Title IX law. This is why it's critical that you have an attorney-advisor well-versed in these issues by your side.
Work With an Experienced Title IX Advisor
If you're a university employee facing a Title IX allegation in Idaho, the stakes are extremely high. You could lose your job, and the dark spot on your resume will follow you for the rest of your career. If you're a student employee, the same issues can follow you on top of possibly being suspended or expelled. Your educational career could come to an end before you even start your life.
Experienced Title IX attorney Joseph D Lento can help you. He and the experienced team at the Lento Law Firm have helped college and university employees throughout the country for years, and they are ready to help you. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to discuss your options.