College employees facing Title IX allegations will endure one of the most critical situations of their careers. How federal funding is linked to how colleges and universities address sexual misconduct means allegations are treated swiftly and harshly. If you are an employee at a Kentucky institution of higher education, it is essential that you take the situation and its long-lasting consequences seriously.
Even though the Title IX grievance process is demanding, college employees will have the opportunity to select an advisor to help them build a solid defense. That advisor can be—and should be—an experienced Title IX advisor with the competency to understand how school disciplinary boards use their investigative, hearing, and sanctioning authorities.
How Does Title IX Work?
The U.S. Congress passed Title IX legislation in 1972 to prevent sexual discrimination in any educational program that receives federal funding. It remains the primary method institutions of higher education use to handle instances of sexual misconduct.
Title IX also applies to a wide range of government-funded training programs, workshops, and seminars. Sometimes, Kentucky college professors, coaches, and staff members are sought to manage or teach in community events and activities that rely on their expertise. If the federal government funds those programs, any allegations of sexual misconduct will fall under Title IX purview, such as:
- Community gardening seminars funded by the Department of Agriculture
- Tax assessment courses supported by the Small Business Administration
- Vocational classes at county jails funded by the Department of Justice
Title IX Restructuring
In the decades following the establishment of the original law, discrimination jurisprudence has developed significantly. The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County (2020) allowed for the inclusion of sexual orientation and transgender status into the range of Title IX. According to a White House press release, the Department of Justice has included language in Title IX to "fully enforce civil rights laws to prevent discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.
Title IX currently protects those in federal-funded institutions from:
- Dating/Domestic violence
- Failure to report Title IX misconduct
- Providing false information or misleading school Title IX personnel
- Quid pro quo coercion
- Sexual assault, discrimination, and exploitation
- Retaliation against those reporting misconduct
Furthermore, the Biden Administration is scheduled to eliminate many Trump-era enforcement guidelines such as in-person disciplinary hearings, official reporting methods, cross-examination, and other due process guidelines. Constant alterations to the federal law make it nearly impossible for college employees to know if previously benign actions may derail their careers.
Title IX Reporting Requirements for Kentucky College Employees
Title IX law affirms that postsecondary schools may produce their own reporting requirements to funnel misconduct allegations to an institution's Title IX Coordinator. Some colleges and universities may enforce mandatory reporting for all faculty, staff, and part-time employees. Other schools may designate certain employees as "responsible employees" to report allegations.
There are exemptions to the rule, however. Some college employees are not designated mandated reporters but are instead "confidential resources," including school counselors, worship officials, and college health providers. Although the guidelines detailing these nuances will vary from school to school, they are one of the first things a college employee will learn as a part of their onboarding process.
According to the Western Kentucky University, those with mandated reporting requirements include:
- Full and part-time faculty and staff
- Part-time student employees, including resident advisors, interns, tour guides, and student government members
- Responsible employees
- School officials with authority
- Temporary or intermittent employees
Some schools like Kentucky Christian University also have guidelines for "community members" and other individuals that utilize their campus. Nevertheless, a school's code of conduct or faculty and employee handbook will explain Title IX reporting requirements.
How Does the Title IX Grievance Process Work?
Once a college or university's Title IX Coordinator is aware of misconduct, the institution will have "actual knowledge," triggering the grievance process. While schools vary regarding the amount of time given to different process aspects—notices of investigations and hearings, each party's response to evidence, rights to appeal—most proceed similarly.
The University of Kentucky will conduct its investigation phase as follows:
- The Title IX Coordinator will inform the accused (Respondent) about the allegations and detail their rights, including the right to be presumed "not responsible" and to choose an advisor.
- The Equal Opportunity Investigator(s) will gather evidence and interview the accuser (Complainant), Respondent, and witnesses involved.
- The Equal Opportunity Investigator(s) will send a Preliminary Investigative Report to both parties.
- Both parties will have ten calendar days after receiving the Preliminary Investigative Report to submit a written rebuttal.
- The Equal Opportunity Investigator(s) will consider the written responses before providing the Final Investigative Report.
The Title IX Coordinator will decide if a hearing is needed. If so, it will move forward as follows:
- The Complainant and Respondent will make an opening statement in front of the Hearing Panel.
- The Hearing Panel will question both parties and witnesses regarding the investigative findings.
- Each party or their advisor will cross-examine the other party and witnesses.
- The Complainant and Respondent may make closing remarks.
- After the Hearing Panel has reviewed the evidence presented at the hearing, they will make a determination of responsibility based on the "preponderance of the evidence" standard, meaning more than 50 percent convinced.
Appealing Title IX Misconduct
At the University of Louisville, college employee respondents have ten calendar days upon the sanctioning body's decision to file an appeal. Berea College, on the other hand, offers only five business days.
Moreover, appeals may be exercised in only a few circumstances. At Eastern Kentucky University, an appeal may be filed if:
- Inadequate or unreasonable justification made for sanctions
- New evidence emerges not available during the investigative or hearing stages
- Procedural irregularity that, if not corrected, would cause a significant difference in the outcome
Title IX Consequences for College Employees
If a college employee is found responsible for Title IX misconduct, punishments are severe. Murray State University's sanctions include:
- Loss of staff privileges
- Reduction of compensation
- Restriction from future employment
- Suspension without pay
- Termination of employment
Title IX consequences are long-lasting. For instance, violators may be barred indefinitely from working at the institution or any college-sponsored activities. Additionally, the college employee will have the sexual misconduct offense detailed on their record, making it challenging to begin a new position at another school.
Disciplinary investigations alone may have to be disclosed on some applications for professional licenses and federal clearances required for many government jobs. Indeed, any Title IX misconduct allegation can interfere with employment status, awards, scholarships, financial aid, and career opportunities.
How Can a Title IX Advisor Help?
Defending yourself against Title IX misconduct is a daunting task, governed by a rigorous process with complex rules. Yet, there is help at hand.
Title IX advisor Joseph D. Lento understands federal Title IX law fluctuations. He constructed his lengthy career on advising and fighting for college employees facing Title IX misconduct allegations in Kentucky and across the country. His dedicated team at the Lento Law Firm strategizes to negotiate fair settlements for college employees to continue their work. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or through its online form.