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Thursday, May. 18th 2017

What is Considered Title IX Sexual Misconduct?

This week Cohen Law Firm addresses the subject of Title IX Sexual Misconduct. The law says “Title IX is a comprehensive Federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity.” This means sexual harassment, which is a form of sex discrimination and prohibited by Title IX and Title IV. Title IX Sexual Misconduct, or “sexual harassment” could more broadly be defined as “any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.”

The standard for administrative enforcement of Title IX Sexual Misconduct by colleges and universities, and in private lawsuits, is whether or not the the alleged misconduct is sufficiently serious to create a hostile environment, and if the school failed to take prompt and effective steps to end the sexual violence, eliminate the hostile environment, prevent its recurrence, and, as appropriate, remedy its effects. The school must also take steps to prevent Title IX Sexual Misconduct from recurring, including disciplining the harasser where appropriate. A series of escalating consequences may be necessary if the initial steps are ineffective in stopping the harassment.

The law protects International and Undocumented Students as well as any others against Title IX Sexual Misconduct. All students attending institutions in the United States that are recipients of federal funds, regardless of national origin, international status, or citizenship status, are protected under the law.

Criminal investigations into Title IX Sexual Misconduct are initiated at the discretion of law enforcement but a school’s duty to investigate under Title IX is NOT discretionary. A school may need to temporarily delay its fact-finding portion of the investigation while the police are gathering evidence, but during this delay it must take immediate interim measures to protect the student in the educational setting for Title IX Sexual Misconduct. A school should not wait for the conclusion of a criminal investigation or criminal proceeding to begin its own Title IX investigation. These duties are a university’s responsibility, regardless of whether a student has complained, asked the university to take action, or identified the harassment as a form of discrimination.

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