Representation of Complainants in Gender Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Assault Matters at Schools and Universities
We represent students, teachers, and faculty at colleges and universities (as well as elementary and secondary schools) who have experienced sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual assault. Our Title IX lawyers have experience representing students in both on-campus administrative proceedings and in court cases to enforce the right to be free from gender-based discrimination and harassment in the educational environment.
As both plaintiffs’ employment lawyers, with substantial experience addressing gender discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, and students’ rights lawyers who routinely represent students in a variety of campus investigations and tribunals, we are uniquely equipped to represent students (or professors) who have experienced sex discrimination or sexual harassment. Our Title IX lawyers have deep knowledge of the maze of federal and state laws, regulations, and guidance documents that are brought to bear on these cases, including Title IX (the federal law requiring gender equality in education), the Clery Act (the federal law requiring colleges and universities to report their crime statistics and their prevention and discipline policies), and the various guidelines promulgated by the federal Department of Education. In addition, our lawyers are deeply familiar with the Massachusetts state laws that apply to these cases, including the law specifically directed at sexual harassment in education (General Laws c. 214, § 1C), and state contract law that applies to students’ relationships with their schools. We are keeping abreast of the rapidly changing landscape in this area, in light of proposed developments in state law and potential changes to federal enforcement policies.
Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in education, and the U.S. Supreme Court has held that sexual harassment and sexual assault are forms of discrimination under that law. Therefore, schools that accept federal funds (nearly all schools in the country), are required to address and prevent sexual harassment on campus. Most schools have developed specific policies aimed at addressing reports of sexual harassment or sexual assault.
If you have experienced sexual harassment or sexual assault on campus there are a number of options available to you, which our lawyers can help you navigate. You can seek certain accommodations from your school to help you address the effects of the harassment or assault. Most schools provide no-contact orders to ensure that the person who harassed or assaulted you does not contact you. Many schools provide counseling to students, and may also provide academic accommodations (extensions on assignments, being excused from class) so that you can address the effects of the harassment or assault. Your school may also be able to help you switch living situations, class schedules, or extracurricular activities so you do not have to come into contact with the person who harassed or assaulted you.
Schools also have both informal and formal grievance procedures. These vary greatly from school to school, but provide a mechanism for the school to do some kind of investigation and make a determination about whether the incident in question was a violation of school policies. Students involved in sexual assault complaints are entitled by federal regulation to have an advisor of their choice--who can be a lawyer--present at investigatory meetings and hearings. Our Title IX lawyers have extensive experience navigating these school investigations and hearings, identifying and helping students present relevant evidence, and helping to ensure that our client’s rights under the law and the school policies are respected.
We also have experience filing complaints with the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the federal agency tasked with investigating schools that are alleged to have violated Title IX. If you believe your school has not followed the law in handling your complaint of sexual harassment or sexual assault, OCR may investigate the school and require it to undertake corrective action.
Finally, as seasoned litigators in both federal and state courts, our lawyers are always ready and willing to bring legal claims against schools if they fail to properly address our clients’ complaints of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual assault under Title IX and state laws.
If you have experienced sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual assault in an educational setting call our Title IX lawyers at (617) 742-6020, or fill out our contact form to get in touch with us.