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Chicago Title IX and Higher Education Discipline Attorney

Discrimination in Higher Education

Colleges, universities and other institutions of higher education that receive federal funding are prohibited from discriminating against students, or potential students, based on protected characteristics such as age, race, national origin, disability and sex. All students must be provided with equal access to education in an environment that is free from discrimination. College and university programs that must be operated in a non-discriminatory manner include admissions, financial aid, scholarship programs, academics, student services, housing, athletics, recruitment and discipline, among many others. Numerous federal laws, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, prohibit discriminatory actions by institutions of higher education. The Law Office of William Carlos Weeden Can provide legal counseling and representation to undergraduate and graduate students facing education discrimination by professors, staff and/or administrators in matters such as sexual harassment, failure to provide accommodations for learning or other disabilities and discrimination based on age, race, sex, national origin or sexual orientation. We will zealously defend our clients’ rights throughout the state and federal courts of Illinois as well as in school administrative proceedings, alternative dispute resolution forums and settlement negotiations. Whether you require extra time to complete examinations, need accommodations for a physical challenge or are being treated unfairly because of your age, race, disability or sex,The Law Office of William Carlos Weeden is  prepared to provide experienced and compassionate representation to protect your rights. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

Title IX

Though it is most often associated with athletics, Title IX also affords protection from a range of harms from sexual harassment and assault to employment discrimination. 

Specifically, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq.) prohibits discrimination against individuals on the basis of sex in educational institutions that receive federal funding of any kind. Such institutions include colleges and universities, local school districts, and for-profit and charter schools. Additionally, Title IX applies to federally funded educational programs at museums, libraries, prisons, and other institutions. 

The heart of Title IX reads: “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 receiving Federal financial assistance…” 

Rights Under Title IX 

Students and employees have many different rights under Title IX, including rights that prohibit gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and unlawful retaliation. Gender discrimination can occur against females, males, and transgender individuals.  Further, section (a)(8) of the act also extends protections to students who are also parents, meaning that if a school provides mother-daughter services or activities to it students or staff, it should provide comparable father-son opportunities (and visa versa).   

Potentially unlawful retaliation under the act includes any type of adverse treatment in response to reporting potentially unlawful discrimination or harassment. Examples of adverse retaliatory treatment against students can include the following: 

  • Denial of permission to participate on an athletic team, a reduction in the amount of playing time, or change to a less-desirable position on the team 
  • Reduction in grades in academic courses 
  • Harassment or other mistreatment on the athletic field or in the classroom 
  • Suspension or expulsion from a program or from the institution. 

In addition to students, employees can also suffer from unlawful retaliation, including: 

  • Harassment or mistreatment from supervisors or administrators 
  • A decrease in pay 
  • Material change in job duties 
  • Demotion 
  • Termination 
  • Refusal by the employer to provide a positive job reference.

Common Title IX Cases 

If you believe you are a victim of unlawful sex discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, Title IX gives you the right to file a civil action against the institution. In addition, a teacher or coach may pursue legal action against their school for discriminatory policies or acts it commits against students. Some of the actions commonly filed involve the following issues:  

  • Sexual assault and harassment 
  • Inequitable treatment or funding of athletic programs and opportunities 
  • Pregnancy discrimination 
  • Employment discrimination 
  • Bullying 
  • Opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) or career technical education (CTE) 
  • Disparate disciplinary policies based on gende

Title IX & Sexual Violence 

While Title IX is most commonly associated with obvious acts of discrimination based on gender, the act also provides protections for victims of sexual violence or sexual harassment. In fact, the Department of Education has stated that if a college or university fails to appropriately respond to allegations of sexual violence or harassment, the university/college may be in violation of Title IX laws. Guidelines issued by the Department of Education require education institutions to: 

  • Hire and maintain a coordinator who is responsible for investigating allegations of sexual assault; 
  • Maintain a written policy that details the investigation process when claims of sexual violence or harassment are made; and 
  • Provide reasonable accommodations to persons claiming to be victims of sexual assault, including, but not limited to, housing changes, class schedule changes, and counseling. 

Under these guidelines, a university has a strong duty to its students to prevent sexual assault and discrimination and to take meaningful action if allegations of sexual assault or harassment are made. Unfortunately, the process does not always play out as it should; there have been hundreds of instances of universities failing to properly investigate claims of sexual assault or discrimination in the past, with many of these educational facilities facing investigations by the Department of Education for Title IX violation as a result. 

Who We Represent 

We represent anyone who believes that their rights under Title IX have been violated. This includes: 

  • Student defendants who have been accused of sexual assault or/and a violation of the educational institution’s code of conduct. We help these students and their families navigate the school’s complex disciplinary investigation and hearing procedures. 
  • Students who bring a claim against another student, staff member, or the university and believe that their claim is being (or has been) improperly investigated or handled. Often, these persons are re-traumatized during the investigative process, and may suffer psychological injuries when the defendant is determined to be “not responsible.” 
  • Faculty and staff members who make a claim of sexual harassment or discrimination against an educational institution in an employment context (i.e., denial of promotion due to gender or sexual identity). Students who also work as Teaching Assistants and in related positions are considered employees under Title IX. 
  • Coaches, players, and other parties who file a claim against an educational institution in an athletic context (for example, female players who are denied access to training facilities, or female coaches who are paid less than male coaches). 

This list is not inclusive. Anyone who is in an educational institution setting and believes that they are the victim of sexual discrimination may bring a claim under Title IX. Contact the Law Office of William Carlos Weeden today to discuss the specifics of your case in detail and learn more about your rights. 

Contact Us Today

If you are facing discipline at your college or university don’t wait to get legal advice from a Title IX and Higher Education Discipline Attorney. Consulting with our office at the beginning of the process can help you avoid mistakes that could result in long term damage, both educational and financial.

Law Office of William Carlos Weeden

The information on this website has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship or warrant that a certain result will be attained in a specific case. The Supreme Court of Illinois does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and the certificate, award or recognition is not a requirement to practice law in Illinois. We encourage you to contact us or another legal professional for advice regarding your individual situation.

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