Amid reports that 85 colleges or universities are now being investigated by the federal government for sexual harassment, administrators nationwide are taking proactive steps to put programs in place to address concerns. Officials at the U.S. Department of Education say that 55 new investigations began in 2014, and nine more have been added since the beginning of the year.
To qualify to receive any federal funding, a college or university must comply with gender equity rules set forth in Title IX. Department of Education officials have previously contended, and have been supported by the courts in their contentions, that Title IX requires colleges to take affirmative steps to address and eliminate sexual harassment and sexual violence at institutions of higher learning. Colleges must take proactive step whether or not police are involved in an investigation.
Department of Education investigations typically result from one of two actions—a victim files a complaint against a college, or the department begins its own investigation. The investigations are conducted by the department’s Office of Civil Rights. Officials say a school has never lost Title IX funding because of the DOE’s findings, and that investigations typically lead to agreements by the colleges and universities to initiate efforts to address sexual violence and harassment.
In light of the burgeoning number of sexual harassment investigations at colleges and universities, many that are not under investigation are taking proactive measures to identify and remediate any problems. The University of Delaware Faculty Senate recently formed a Commission on Sexual Harassment and Assault, and has tasked the commission with the recommendation and implementation of a best practices for the prevention of sexual assault and harassment. Other universities, including Yale, Georgetown, and the University of Wisconsin, have aggressively pushed programs to fight sexual harassment.
We offer a free initial consultation to anyone who has been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace. Call us at 516-873-9550 or 212-661-4370 (toll-free at 1-800-585-4658) or send us an e-mail to schedule a meeting.