Title IX Frequently Asked Questions

Feb. 27, 2020 By Andrew Miltenberg

Title IX Frequently Asked Questions

If you or your child has been accused of sexual misconduct on campus, you will have many questions about the process. This article will answer some of your questions.

What is Title IX?

Title IX of the federal Civil Rights Act is a federal law that prohibits colleges and universities from discriminating on the basis of sex or gender. The law applies to private as well as public institutions that receive federal funding. It is enforced by the Department of Justice, Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”).

Who does Title IX protect?

Title IX protects students, faculty, administrators, and other persons on campus. Title IX has been used by alleged victims of sexual misconduct to seek remedies against colleges that don’t take enough action against the persons accused of the misconduct. Learn more about how Title IX puts students’ futures at risk.

What conduct is prohibited by Title IX?

Title IX prohibits discrimination in recruitment, admissions, counseling, financial assistance, athletics, etc. from sex-based harassment; and other discriminatory behaviors. A college may not retaliate against any person for opposing an unlawful educational practice or policy, or who filed a complaint, testified, or participated in any disciplinary hearing under Title IX. Courts have ruled that Title IX forbids imposing university discipline where gender is a motivating factor in the decision to discipline. 

What if someone files a complaint against me with the Title IX Office?

Most colleges have a Title IX coordinator who will conduct a preliminary investigation of the charges and meet with you in doing so. You should review and understand your school’s Title IX policy and procedures which are typically contained in the Student Handbook. The Title IX coordinator will assign an investigator who, following an investigation, will report their findings to the Dean or other officials. This will usually be followed by a hearing before a panel of school officials to determine whether the accused student violated policy by committing the alleged wrongdoing. An appeal of an adverse ruling may be possible. Sanctions for wrongdoing can include suspension or expulsion. More information about what to do if you’ve been accused of sexual assault. 

Do I need a lawyer if accused of a Title IX violation?

While Title IX does not require that you retain a lawyer, the process is analogous to a civil trial and an experienced Title IX lawyer can be your best protection against a negative ruling or an excessive sanction. You should hire an experienced Title IX lawyer as early as possible in the process. 

Do I need a lawyer in my state to represent me for my Title IX case?

No, you do not need a Title IX lawyer in your state. Title IX is a federal law – not a state law – and an experienced Title IX lawyer is most knowledgeable and prepared to assist you.  

What is involved in a Title IX investigation?

As part of the process, the investigator will meet with you, the accuser, and possibly any witnesses. The investigator will also review evidence including documents, emails, text messages, and social media posts that are relevant to the claim. The investigator will then report their findings and recommendation to the Dean. Typically, the recommendation will be for the school to empower a panel of university officers to conduct a hearing. This process will be described more fully in your school’s Title IX procedures.     

How is Title IX applied to Athletics?

Title IX requires that women and men be provided equitable opportunities to participate in sports. Title IX does not require institutions to offer identical sports but an equal opportunity to play.

Title IX also requires that female and male student athletes receive athletic scholarship dollars proportional to their participation.

Additionally, Title IX calls for the equal treatment of female and male student athletes in the provision of equipment, supplies, scheduling, coaching, tutoring, facilities, and recruitment, among other things.

How do you prepare for a Title IX hearing?

You should speak to any witnesses who were present before, during, or after the alleged event and gather documents and electronic evidence to support your position. The school should also give you access to material and witnesses submitted by the accuser. You should be entitled to due process or fundamental fairness in the conduct of the hearing

What happens if I am found responsible for a violation of a school’s Title IX policy?

You may have a right to appeal to a senior university official. You may also have the right to bring a Title IX lawsuit against the college for unfairness or lack of due process, bias on the part of hearing panel members, or the failure to follow the college’s published procedures for Title IX claims. 

If found responsible for the alleged policy violation, you could be suspended or expelled from the college. Learn more about what happens if you’re found responsible.     

Is the information about the Title IX investigation public?

Generally, it is not. OCR requires universities to keep certain records confidential, specifically documents that comprise Title IX complaints and investigations of sexual misconduct. However, if you are found responsible for sexual misconduct allegations, the findings and sanction will be recorded in your disciplinary record and potentially on your transcript which can make it difficult or impossible to transfer schools, obtain admission to a desired graduate school or obtain meaningful employment.     

As a result, you will also need to take action to clear up your record so any adverse Title IX findings and sanction do not remain on your transcript. 

How is responsibility for the Title IX accusation decided?

Generally, if the initial investigation determines the charges are justified, the college will convene a panel of university officials to hear testimony and review documents and other materials submitted by the accuser and the accused. You should be given the right to submit questions to cross-examine the accuser and her witnesses during the campus hearing. 

How do I determine evidence?

Consider documents, emails, text messages, photos and social media postings from the accuser, her friends, and you and your friends prior to, during, and after the alleged events. Determine if each item of potential evidence is helpful to your case. These will be the basis for your defense. 

How do I determine witnesses?

Consider all persons who were present prior to, at or about the time of the alleged events or who may have spoken to or communicated with the accuser before, during, or after that time. Try to speak with each of them about their recollections and whether they can provide testimony that will support your defense.

What happens after a Title IX hearing?

If a negative ruling is made by the panel, you may have a short time to appeal. You may also have the right to bring a Title IX lawsuit against the school for failure to provide due process or fundamental fairness in the hearing process, bias on the part of hearing panel members, or violation of the school’s published Title IX procedures. 

Contact Us

Our attorneys are Title IX defense specialists and we have helped hundreds of students across the country who have been treated unfairly by their schools. We are parents too. Call us at 212-736-4500 or contact us as soon as a complaint is filed and we will be there aggressively protecting your rights, ensuring a fundamentally fair process, or establishing the deficiencies that will lead a court to reverse the school’s adverse findings. There is no fee for a private consultation.

Because every individual’s situation is different, this blog does not constitute the giving of legal advice.