Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sexual Harassment Roundup

Here is a roundup of sexual harassment decisions handed down this winter:

A federal district court in New York dismissed Title IX claims against the New York City Department of Education stemming from a single incident of peer harassment in which a male student pressed his body against a female student and touched her breasts.  The court determined that school officials had no notice of the offending student posed a risk of sexual assault, and that the school's response -- suspending him for one year -- was reasonable and not deliberate indifference.  Carabello v. New York City Dep't of Educ. 2013 WL 828470 (Mar. 6, 2013).

Similarly, a district court in Washington dismissed Title IX claims against a district in a case involving a male teacher's inappropriate touching (giving backrubs) and comments on appearance of an eighth grade female student.  The court reasoned that the school's response did not amount to deliberate indifference, where the response consisted of staff training, and retraining of the offending teacher, as well as offers to reassign the teacher which the student's parents rejected, choosing to withdraw the student instead.  The plaintiffs can, however, proceed individually against the teacher for violations of the student's constitutional rights to be free of sexual harassment. S.T. v. Yakima Sch. Dist. No. 7, 2013 WL 807197 (E.D. Wash. Mar. 5, 2013).

A female student-athlete who was sexually assaulted by a male student in her dormitory could not recover from her university under Title IX, since school officials did not have notice that the offending student posed a risk of sexual assault and that the student was subjected to further sexual harassment or violence after reporting the offense.  Moore v. Murray State University,  2013 WL 960320 (W.D. Ky. Mar. 12, 2013).

A student harassed by her peers on the basis of religion could not recover under Title IX.   Shively v. Green Local School District, 2013 WL 774643 (N.D. Ohio Feb. 28, 2013).

A student harassed by peers could not bring bring Title IX claims against individual school officials, nor could she sue them individually under 42 U.S.C. 1983's right of action for violations of Title IX.  Doe v. Town of Stoughton, 2013 WL 227568 (D. Mass. Jan. 22, 2013).

A male middle school student routinely bullied from sixth through eighth grades could proceed with Title IX claims against the school district, having alleged sufficient facts to demonstrate that the harassment was because of sex because he was subject to unwelcome sexual advances and sexually lewd comments, and that the school officials did not intercede to protect the harassment they knew was going on. P.W. v. Fairport Cent. Sch. Dist., 2013 WL 690525 (W.D.N.Y. Feb. 25, 2013).