Washington Title IX defense attorneys know that the procedures used by schools and colleges to investigate allegations of sexual harassment are not always fair. The Secretary of Education has proposed amendments to the regulations that implement Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX prohibits sex-based discrimination in education programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. The proposed regulations would define sexual harassment, specify when a school must respond to a sexual harassment allegation, impose a standard for a school’s response to sexual harassment allegations, set forth when a school must initiate its grievance procedures, and require procedures to ensure a fair and reliable factual determination during the investigation and adjudication of a sexual harassment complaint.
The Secretary found problems with how Title IX has been applied. These problems included definitions of sexual harassment that were too broad, lack of notice, not providing both parties with the evidence reviewed by the investigator, not allowing cross-examination of the parties and witnesses, and adjudications that applied the lowest standard of evidence.
The proposed regulations are intended to ensure that allegations are properly investigated and procedures are fair to both parties. Unfortunately, sometimes schools and universities engage in procedures that deny due process to those accused of sexual harassment, regardless of whether the accused person is a student or a faculty member.