Friday, February 13, 2009

Harassment Cases Roundup

Here is a quick round up of several Title IX harassment decisions that have recently come across the radar:
  • Court of appeals affirmed district court's decision that a single instance of harassment was not sufficiently severe and pervasive for Title IX liability to attach. The instance involved a male special education student who exposed himself, kissed, and lifted the skirt of a female mentally retarded classmate. Watkins v. La Marque Independent School Dist., 2009 WL 188079 (5th Cir. Jan 27, 2009).
  • District court found that school responded reasonably to incidents of peer harassment. . The plaintiff, a middle school girl, was tormented by a female classmate and her female friends with name calling and insults and butt slapping. On one occasion, the victim's breasts and/or buttocks were touched without her consent. The court concluded that this did not constitution actionable harassment because it was not so severe and pervasive as to deny the plaintiff of access to her education. Moreover, the court doubted that the bullying was motivated by the victim's sex, and agreed that school officials acted reasonably by responding to the harassment with variety of responses ranging from warnings to a formal investigation. Brodsky ex rel. S.B. v. Trumbull Bd. of Educ., 2009 WL 230708 (D. Conn. Jan 30, 2009)
  • District court refused to dismiss Title IX claims against Carl Albert College, where the plaintiff alleged that college officials knew that the assistant women's basketball coach who raped her at a party was in the habit of partying with and behaving inappropriately around female students. Court also said that plaintiff's claim that the college "created an atmosphere" of tolerance for inappropriate activity could satisfy the Title IX liability standard after Simpson v. University of Colorado. Miles v. Washington, 2009 WL 259722 (E.D. Okla. Feb. 2, 2009).