Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sexual Harassment Litigation Roundup

Here is a roundup of news related to Title IX cases involving sexual harassment and assault:
  • A former student at Arizona State has sued the Board of Regents claiming that the university failed to adequately protect her from a rape that occurred at a fraternity house.
  • A district court judge set aside a jury verdict in favor of a Michigan student, who had sued the school district over its response to other students' perpetration sexual and anti-gay harassment. The case had been reinstated by the 6th Circuit after the district court dismissed on summary judgment. But considering new evidence presented at the jury trial, the district court judge held that the harassment was not severe and pervasive, but typical of middle school students, and that the school responded adequately by investigating each incident of harassment and punishing the perpetrators. See Patterson v. Hudson Area Schools, 2010 WL 2670167 (E.D. Mich. July 1, 2010).
  • A district court in Indiana dismissed a plaintiff's case stemming from peer harassment because there was no support for plaintiff's claim the abuse was motivated by his gender nonconformity, only his perceived sexual orientation (which is not covered by Title IX). Turpin v. Good, 2010 WL 2560421 (S.D. Ind., June 24, 2010).
  • A district court in Illinois dismissed a case in which a student challenged the university's response to his complaints about a professor's weird and inappropriate statements about the plaintiff's hair (the professor said that his hair would be sexy on a lady, and that if the plaintiff was a lady, he would want to date him). The court held that this did not constitute harassment based on the plaintiff's sex. The court also considered the fact that the professor harassed male and female students equally to cut against the plaintiff's argument that the harassment was motivated by his sex. Milligan v. Bd. of Trustees, 2010 WL 2649917 (S.D. Ill. June 30, 2010).
  • A district court in Wisconsin denied a university's motion for summary judgment in a case arising out of a resident advisor's alleged assault on the plaintiff, a student, in her dorm room at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. The court agreed that the plaintiff's complaint contained sufficient allegations -- including that campus officials waited three days before calling the police -- that could allow a jury to find the university liability under Title IX. Albiez v. Kaminski, 2010 WL 2465502 (E.D. Wisc. June 14, 2010).