You might think that sexual harassment in education rarely happens, but nothing could be further from the truth-a shocking two-thirds of students in higher education experience sexual harassment at some point in college. The U.S. Department of Education utilizes Title IX to prevent and remedy acts of sexual harassment in education settings.
What qualifies as sexual harassment, though? What do you do when you find yourself the victim of it? Read on for the answers to these questions and much more.
What Is Sexual Harassment in Education?
The Department of Education issued Title IX regulations in 2020 that defined sexual harassment as behavior that is “sufficiently severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive” that it denies the victim access to their education. This is known as hostile environment sexual harassment.
Need some examples? This commonly includes lewd comments, unwanted sexual advances, unwanted touching, and exposure to obscene material.
Some school districts and colleges drafted sexual misconduct policies that broadened the definition of sexual harassment. This leaves these institutions with Title IX and non-Title IX sexual harassment definitions.
Reporting Sexual Harassment for Faculty, Staff and Students
Every school that accepts federal funds must have a Title IX coordinator. That means the majority of K-12, college, and university campuses have someone in place whose job it is to respond to allegations of sexual harassment. They respond to other forms of sex-based discrimination as well.
Your school’s website should have contact information for your Title IX coordinator. Most schools have dedicated websites and reporting forms for sexual harassment claims. In most cases, if you report the harassment to an employee of the school, that employee is required to file a report with the Title IX coordinator.
When to Hire an Attorney
When you file a Title IX claim, your school is required to respond. Failure to respond is considered deliberate indifference and leaves the school open to liability. If this has happened to you, or if you face retaliation, then you should contact an attorney to help you work through the next steps, including whether a sexual harassment lawsuit is necessary.
Attorneys play a vital role in Title IX investigations, as well. Title IX regulations require schools to hold live hearings with cross-examination by each party’s advisor. Having an attorney by your side as an advisor during this process is critical to a successful outcome.
Sexual Harassment Has No Place in Education
Title IX and university sexual misconduct policies strictly prohibit sexual harassment in education settings regardless of whether you’re a student or faculty. Filing a report with your school’s Title IX coordinator is the first step toward healing. Be sure to document everything and hire an attorney if the school doesn’t respond properly or if you want the best advocacy during an investigation.
Are you looking for an attorney who has a proven track record of dealing with sexual harassment in an educational setting and the workplace? McOmber McOmber & Luber have a powerful team of attorneys in New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia. Contact us today to learn how we can help you get the justice you deserve!