Has someone accused you of a Title IX violation in Pennsylvania? This could occur if you’re a student or employee of a school that receives federal financial assistance.

You have a right to a proper defense in these circumstances. At Stanton D. Levenson, P.A. Law Offices, a Title IX lawyer in Pittsburgh is on hand to offer one. Contact us today for more information.

What Is Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972?

According to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs and similar activities that get federal financial assistance. Specifically, 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.”

Discrimination on the basis of sex doesn’t just mean discriminating against someone on the basis of biological sex. It may also involve discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. In addition, discrimination in the context of this law can include sex-based harassment and similar misconduct.

What Types of Educational Programs and Activities Does Title IX Apply To?

Some mistakenly believe Title IX only applies to college athletics programs. That’s not the case. Title IX applies to such matters as:

  • Recruitment
  • Admissions
  • Counseling
  • Financial assistance
  • How institutions treat pregnant students
  • How institutions treat LGBTQ+ students
  • How institutions protect students from sexual misconduct

Title IX also prohibits anyone from threatening or coercing someone who is exercising their rights under Title IX. 

For example, a student may submit a Title IX complaint if they feel a professor at a qualified university is mistreating them on the basis of their sexual orientation. No representative of the university is allowed to make the student fear they will face repercussions (like expulsion) for doing so.

Common Types of Title IX Violations

Title IX violations can take several forms. The following are common examples:

  • Gender discrimination: Gender discrimination can involve everything from not offering sufficient athletic programs for all genders that attend a school to subjecting students of a certain gender to stereotyping in the classroom.
  • Sexual harassment: Title IX prohibits sexual harassment, which generally involves unwanted sexual behavior or advances. For example, sexual harassment may occur when someone sends obscene images to someone who doesn’t wish to see such images. In other circumstances, it may involve stalking and intimidation. 
  • Sexual violence: Sexual violence involves virtually any form of unwanted or forced sexual contact or touching. Rape is one form of sexual violence, but sexual violence can also involve a gesture like touching someone’s leg or other such body part without their permission.
  • Retaliation: There are various ways programs to which Title IX applies may engage in retaliation against those who file Title IX complaints. Expulsion is a severe example. Other examples include grading a student more harshly than their peers, not letting a student athlete play, etc.
  • Hostile environment: A hostile environment under Title IX is one in which someone may feel uncomfortable due to persistent sex-related bullying, criticism, etc.

The DOE explains that Title IX doesn’t exclusively protect students. Title IX protects all those who interact with an educational program or activity the law applies to. These may include employees, parents of students, and others.

In addition, a representative of an educational program doesn’t need to be the one engaging in misconduct for a violation to ultimately occur. For example, maybe a student at a college is harassing another student. The victim in this scenario may bring a Title IX complaint against the other student.

Penalties for a Title IX Violation

The penalties one may face for a Title IX violation can depend on the nature of the violation, the relationship between the accused and the person who filed the complaint, and more.

As the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) explains, the most significant penalty an educational program or institution may face for a Title IX violation is withdrawal of federal assistance.

The Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) points out that no college has lost all of its federal funding under Title IX since the law’s enactment. However, several schools and programs have paid damages in Title IX cases.

The penalties an individual (such as a student or school employee) may face for a Title IX violation include:

  • Disciplinary probation
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion
  • Termination of employment
  • Loss of tenure
  • Loss of scholarships
  • Restitution
  • Change in job position
  • Withholding or revocation of a degree

Being found responsible for a Title IX violation can also have significant implications for someone’s future. A student found responsible for a Title IX violation may be unable to earn their degree. Or, they might struggle to gain acceptance into grad school programs.

A professor or employee found responsible for a Title IX violation may struggle professionally as a result. Along with losing their job, they may find it difficult to secure employment elsewhere. In addition, such a violation carries a stigma that can impact someone’s personal life. On top of that, someone may also file a civil action against someone for the violation that prompted the Title IX complaint.

What Happens When Someone Files a Title IX Complaint in Pittsburgh?

Educational programs and activities to which Title IX applies all have Title IX coordinators or offices. A Title IX coordinator investigates when someone files a Title IX complaint.

The exact details of the complaint and investigation process can vary from one institution to another. Different institutions may have different policies for handling such complaints. Generally, though, the process involves these steps:

  • Someone files a Title IX complaint
  • The Title IX coordinator investigates
  • The Title IX coordinator’s office issues a determination of responsibility
  • If a party is found responsible for a Title IX violation, they may face penalties

A party found responsible for a Title IX violation can appeal their case. The party that filed the complaint can also appeal the determination if the other party isn’t found responsible.

How a Title IX Defense Attorney Can Help

Has someone accused you of a Title IX violation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, or the surrounding areas? Our firm can offer Title IX legal counsel if so. 

Title IX cases are unique because they aren’t technically legal processes when Title IX coordinators investigate. Still, a party facing Title IX violation accusations has a right to hire a Title IX allegations lawyer in Pennsylvania. A Title IX defense lawyer in Pennsylvania can also be very helpful if an accuser files a civil suit.

A Title IX law firm may assist you in these critical ways:

  • Reviewing your case
  • Explaining the nature of the allegations and the potential penalties you may face
  • Reviewing the evidence against you
  • Gathering new evidence that may support your alibi, if you have one
  • Challenging whether the Title IX coordinator’s investigation has uncovered sufficient evidence to find you responsible

Don’t wait to contact a lawyer. The sooner you start building a defense, the better.

Contact a Title IX Attorney in Pennsylvania Today

Title IX allegations can significantly impact your future. Protect your rights by enlisting the help of a qualified Pennsylvania Title IX defense lawyer today. At Stanton D. Levenson, P.A. Law Offices, we are proud to serve Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania, and we can offer the defense you need. Get started today by contacting us online or calling us to discuss your case.