Monday, September 25, 2006

Jackson's Legacy

We here at Western New England College are "wicked psyched" -- as we say in Mass. -- for an upcoming visit from Coach Roderick Jackson, who is speaking on campus next Thursday (stay tuned to Title IX blog for updates and coverage). Yes that's the Coach Jackson, also known as the plaintiff who sued the Birmingham School District after he was removed from his coaching position for challenging his school's lack of support for the girls' basketball team. The case made its way to the Supreme Court and resulted in an important decision affirming that Title IX protected whistleblowers like Jackson against discrimination.

The Jackson decision is already having an effect on Title IX caselaw. Last month, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals invoked Jackson in its decision to reinstate Title IX claims by Lafayette College AD Eva Atkinson against her former institution, which she maintains terminated her employment after she made gender equity a budgetary priorty.

The Third Circuit decision also made clear that protection against retaliation for insisting that one's employer treat female students equitably was a claim squarely in the realm of Title IX -- and not a case of direct gender discrimination that would be actionable under Title VII (statute prohibiting employers from discriminating against employers on the basis of their sex). The court reasoned that Lafayette College's decision to terminate Atkinson had nothing to do with Atkinson's sex, but Atkinson's insistence that the school correct discrimination against certain students as a result of their sex.

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