University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Department of Education OCR Title IX Investigation of University of Virginia ED-VA-0003
Docket / Court 11-11-6001 ( No Court )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Education
Case Summary
The United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights(OCR) opened an investigation in 2011 to determine whether the university's policies complied with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The exact contents of the complaints that prompted this investigation are not available ... read more >
The United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights(OCR) opened an investigation in 2011 to determine whether the university's policies complied with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The exact contents of the complaints that prompted this investigation are not available.

OCR reviewed a number of policies and procedures that were in place between 2011 and 2015. While the university vastly improved its Sexual Misconduct Policy since the Policy that was in place in 2005, OCR still found significant failures in the policy that prevented its compliance with Title IX. Specifically, the Policy failed to operate procedures for prompt and equitable resolutions of complaints of sexual harassment, including sexual violence.

OCR found that the university failed to adequately respond to at least one sexual assault case. The university's response failed to comply with Title IX in several key ways. First, the five-month delay in scheduling the hearing after the investigation was complete did not provide for a prompt resolution of the complaint. Second, the university had an obligation to move forward with a disciplinary hearing or other proceeding given the seriousness of the allegations. Third, the university's response failed to consider whether broader remedies were needed to address the effects of the alleged harassment. The university also failed to take appropriate action in a significant number of other cases throughout the relevant time period of the investigation.

OCR determined that at least through the 2011-2012 school year, the university's handling of informal reports of possible misconduct was not compliant with Title IX. In a number of these incidents, the university had sufficient information to investigate or otherwise take steps necessary to ensure it was providing a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students.

OCR further found that the university implemented its procedures inequitably by allowing a cross-claim to be heard at the same hearing without providing a separate investigation or giving the original complainant adequate time to prepare for the hearing. The multiple duties of the chair of the Sexual Misconduct Board over the course of the complaint process also created the appearance of a conflict of interest.

On a broader scale, OCR found that the university did not make a decision concerning whether each case, or the combination of cases, created the need for a broad response by the university to address the issue of sexual harassment and violence in the campus community.

OCR also reviewed a number of complaints made by students against university employees. The Equal Opportunity Program (EOP) did not fully investigate these complaints, and it fell short of its obligation to respond promptly and equitably to all Title IX complaints. EOP also failed to monitor and review responses to complaints to ensure that students' complaints against employees were addressed in a prompt and equitable manner.

OCR concluded that the university failed to comply with Title IX in several key ways. On September 17, 2015, the university entered into a voluntary Resolution Agreement. The university retained an Equity Consultant to help achieve compliance with Title IX. The university also updated its Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence. OCR reviewed the updated policies and procedures, and determined that they were in compliance with Title IX. The university also updated the role and responsibilities of its Title IX coordinator, and implemented training of its Review Panel members. The university also agreed to develop and implement Title IX training for all students and employees, with the help of the Equity Consultant. The university was additionally required to develop a system for tracking and reviewing all reports, investigations, interim measures, and resolutions of all conduct that may constitute sexual harassment or sexual violence. The university agreed to conduct additional campus climate surveys, and to report relevant data to OCR. The university agreed to ongoing monitoring by OCR for at least three years following the implementation of the Resolution Agreement.

Elizabeth Heise - 12/02/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitoring
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Training
Defendant-type
College/University
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Failure to train
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Out-of-court
Causes of Action Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. ยงยง 1681 et seq.
Defendant(s) University of Virginia
Plaintiff Description students at the university who alleged that the university did not respond adequately to complaints of sexual assault or harassment
Class action status sought Unknown
Class action status granted Unknown
Filed Pro Se Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Unknown
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2015 - n/a
Filing Year 2011
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
No documents currently in the collection

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