If you have been accused of a Title IX violation, it is critical that you understand the possible outcomes you face, including the consequences of decisions made early on in the process. An appeal occurs after a decision has been made at the administrative level in the school, and the appeal can reinforce the earlier decision or overturn it. Depending on how it was decided earlier, whether in your favor or not, may matter when deciding whether to appeal a decision. Further, the complaining party can appeal if you were found not to have violated, meaning even a decision in your favor in the first steps of a Title IX investigation may not be the end of it.
To be prepared for all of the potential outcomes of a Title IX appeal, you will need to keep informed at every step of the process by an attorney who has the years of experience needed to effectively fight for your rights. The grueling process of the Title IX investigation does not end until every aspect of the appeals process is over, and it can even result in a separate lawsuit once all administrative remedies are exhausted.
There is a lot to know, but with experienced Title IX defense attorney Joseph D. Lento you can move forward confidently and defend your rights. You can fight these allegations against you.
Experienced Title IX Defense Attorney
Joseph D. Lento has many years of experience in defending those accused of Title IX violations, including students, international students, employees, and professors at universities and colleges throughout the United States. Understanding the ins and outs of Title IX cases requires the type of hard work and experience Lento brings to work with him every single day. Every case deserves the best possible protection, including yours.
Joseph Lento is an experienced negotiator, and some Title IX cases can be resolved amicably with the right negotiator by your side. When cases cannot be resolved through such efforts, he has the years of experience needed to fight your case all the way to the end, including through any necessary appeal. You will always rest easy, knowing that your rights are protected by a highly competent attorney.
Title IX: Understanding the Law
To understand how Title IX appeals may affect you, an understanding of what Title IX is important. Title IX of the Education Amendments is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination because of gender committed by or against students, staff, and faculty in higher education institutions that receive federal funding. Gender discrimination can be committed against women, men, and transgender individuals.
Sexual misconduct is considered gender-based discrimination, along with proven instances of bullying, employment discrimination, and unfair and disproportionate opportunities in intercollegiate sports and educational programs.
Colleges and universities receiving federal funding maintain their compliance with Title IX by handling any of reported cases of gender-based discrimination. All parties involved in a case - whether they be students or employees of a college - will be required to undergo their school's Title IX processes.
Appealing a Title IX Decision
If you get an unfavorable ruling in the original investigation for a Title IX violation, the process does not end there. You have the right to file an appeal, as does the other party if he or she receives an unfavorable decision. In either case, both you or the complainant are expected to exhaust the administrative process before moving to other types of lawsuits or actions, as will be discussed further later.
In all, your possible appeal options include:
- File your appeal through the college or university's appeals process (if the university has such an appeal process)
- Appeal the Office of Civil Rights's decisions
- File a civil lawsuit in federal court
- File an appeal of the civil court's decision.
Each of these possibilities comes with its own unique factors that may affect you, and each will be described in turn.
College or University Appeal Process
After a decision is made at the university or college level, most colleges have some type of appeals process. However, while Title IX requires that every college, university, and school district has its own procedures and policies regarding Title IX complaints, it does not require the school to implement an appeals process. Therefore, not every school will have an appeals process for either you or the complainant to utilize.
The Office of Civil Rights does recommend that appeals be available to individuals in cases where:
- possible procedural error occurred
- where evidence that was previously unavailable has come to light
- when the imposed sanction is disproportionate to the findings of the investigator
This is the first step in the appeals process, and is an important step in enforcing your rights if you had an unfavorable decision found against you.
Respondent Filing an Appeal
The person accused of committing a Title IX violation is the "respondent" in a Title IX case. A respondent is able to file an appeal resulting from an unfavorable decision. If the college or university makes some type of finding against you, you have the right to an appeal from that decision. These decisions can be a finding that some type of gender discrimination was committed, a type of sexual misconduct, or some other type of Title IX violation.
Whenever you have been found to have committed a Title IX violation, an appeal is certainly something to seriously consider. With the help of your attorney, you can continue to fight these charges, or work to have the sentence imposed against you reduced to something much more appropriate. You do not have to blindly accept the findings of the Title IX investigator.
Example 1: Sally filed a Title IX complaint alleging Frank groped her in the hallway outside of class. After the investigation was completed, the investigator determined that sufficient evidence existed that Frank committed the alleged offense, and determined that Frank should be expelled from his school. Frank can appeal this decision through the school's appeal process based on the facts of the case, or even simply the level of punishment imposed.
When you face the imposition of sanctions as the result of a finding in the complainant's favor, you do not have to sit and watch your future go down the drain. There are actions you can take to defend your rights.
Complainant Filing an Appeal
If a college or university has an appeals process, the complainant can also make use of it, not just the respondent. The complainant is the individual who filed the complaint alleging you committed some type of Title IX violation against him or her. A complainant may file a complaint if he or she is not happy with the decision that came down in your favor, or even if the complainant feels that the remedy or punishment was not sufficient in his or her opinion.
Example 1: Beth filed a Title IX complaint against Jerry alleging that he sexually assaulted her. After the investigation was concluded, the Title IX investigator determined that insufficient evidence existed of an assault, and made a finding in Jerry's favor. Unhappy with this result, Beth can now file an appeal and seek reconsideration of the issue.
Example 2: Instead, in Beth's case above, the Title IX investigator found sufficient evidence of a sexual assault, and imposed a one semester suspension on Jerry, rather than the expulsion Beth had asked for. Even though Jerry was found to have committed a Title IX violation, if Beth is unhappy with the sanction, she can appeal that portion of the decision.
Filing a Complaint with the Department of Education or the Department of Justice
One option for complainants and respondents is to file a complaint with the Department of Education or Department of Justice alleging a violation of Title IX. It is possible that the complainant used this process to file some type of complaint against you, and it may require an appeal to fight back against an unfavorable decision by the Office of Civil Rights.
The respondent can file an appeal of any OCR decision after it has been investigated. The OCR decision can be appealed based upon a finding of dismissals and noncompliance. Either the complainant or respondent can file an appeal, depending on what finding the OCR came down with.
OCR appeals are not a method for hearing the entire case again, but can only be appealed when the appealing party avers that:
- The factual information was not complete or was incorrect,
- The legal analysis was incorrect, or
- The appropriate legal standard was not applied.
Filing a complaint with the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights or the Department of Justice is often a better method than filing a civil rights lawsuit in federal court, because it permits more chances to get the result you want. A lawsuit can be filed later, but if a lawsuit is filed either before or during an attempt at an OCR appeal, the Department of Education will close the OCR appeal case.
Filing a Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit
Only the alleged victim, or the parents of the alleged victim, can file a Title IX lawsuit in federal court. The "victim" in this case does not always mean the "complainant" in the original case against you. You can be the victim of improper Title IX procedures at your school. It is certainly possible that it is you that filed the case, or the case could have been filed against you. Either scenario is possible, and in either case, an experienced attorney can help.
A Title IX lawsuit in federal court can be filed after the school's appeals process or even the OCR process has been completed, regardless of the outcome of either. That is why it is often best to file the civil rights lawsuit after the OCR has made its decision. This permits you to have more chances to appeal and change the outcome if your rights were violated.
A lawsuit can be filed against the institution which you attended alleging that it violated Title IX and infringed on your federal law rights. In so many cases, schools jump the gun in assuming the complaint against was valid, without properly following Title IX procedures in making sure that the facts were accurate. When your rights are violated by the school, you have the right to file a federal civil rights lawsuit to not only possibly change the outcome of your case, but also possibly receive money damages as well.
Why an Attorney is Essential in Title IX Cases
Title IX cases, from beginning to end, are incredibly complicated. If you are accused of sexual misconduct or gender discrimination, the consequences can be very severe if there is a finding against you. Because of modern trends, alleged "victim's" stories are often automatically believed without any real investigation, and you are then punished based on assumptions. Title IX requires an actual investigation, and so often this does not occur properly if the respondent is not represented by an attorney.
With a highly experienced attorney at your side, you can ensure that your Title IX rights are better respected, and if they are not, your attorney knows what to look for, how to fight back, and how to take your appeal all the way if the school still fails to respect your Title IX rights. Your entire future is at risk when you are accused of a Title IX violation. It is imperative that you fight back with everything you have, and with an experienced Title IX defense lawyer in your corner.
Consult an Experienced Title IX Defense Lawyer
If you stand accused of a Title IX violation, there are some very serious consequences that could occur if you are found to have violated. With the risk of suspension, expulsion, loss of scholarship, and more in front of you, you cannot afford to sit back and watch your life be taken from you. You have rights that deserve to be protected. The long-term harm of choosing to go it alone can be catastrophic, emotionally and financially.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has a firm understanding of the consequences and has helped countless students accused of Title IX violations defend their case. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today for help.