In Haley Videckis, et al. v. Ryan Weisenberg, et.al, Case No. CV 15-00298, a federal judge in California recently ruled that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is covered by Title IX. Although the Office for Civil Rights at the United States Department of Education (“OCR”) had previously adopted this position in official guidance, Videckis marked the first time that a court had come to such a conclusion.
The Court ruled that claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation are covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX, not as a separate category of independent claims, but rather as part of gender stereotype discrimination and/or sex discrimination. The Court stated that this conclusion closely follows the recent Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) decision, which held that sexual orientation discrimination is covered under Title VII. The EEOC has ruled that it will treat sexual orientation discrimination claims the same as other sex discrimination claims under Title VII.
All schools and colleges should carefully review their Title IX policies and procedures in light of the Videckis decision to ensure that they address discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Please contact a member of Steptoe & Johnson PLLC’s Higher Education Team to determine how this decision impacts your Title IX policies and procedures, and for assistance in drafting policies compliant with recent OCR guidance and judicial decisions.