University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Department of Education OCR Title IX Investigation of Harvard University ED-MA-0005
Docket / Court 01-11-2002 ( No Court )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Education
Special Collection Title IX, Sexual Violence Investigations/Resolutions
Case Summary
In 2010, a student at Harvard Law School filed a complaint with the US Department of Education, Boston Office for Civil Rights (OCR). She alleged that the Law School’s policies and procedures failed to comply with Title IX by failing to provide a prompt and equitable resolution of her complaint ... read more >
In 2010, a student at Harvard Law School filed a complaint with the US Department of Education, Boston Office for Civil Rights (OCR). She alleged that the Law School’s policies and procedures failed to comply with Title IX by failing to provide a prompt and equitable resolution of her complaint that a fellow Harvard Law student sexually assaulted her. The complainant took issue with three school policies: 1) requiring victims to choose between filing criminal charges and filing a Title IX complaint with the Law School; 2) allowing for re-hearings that further delayed the process; and 3) using a clear and convincing evidence standard of proof in grievance procedures. On December 21, 2010, OCR announced that it would investigate the allegations.

In December 2014, after three years of investigating, OCR issued a letter of findings. In it, OCR wrote that it identified a number of compliance concerns with Harvard Law School’s policies and procedures. OCR determined that although the Law School complied with regulations regarding a notice of non-discrimination and provision of notice and contact information for the University’s Title IX Coordinator, it failed to comply with the requirement that the school respond promptly and equitably to complaints of sexual harassment and assault. In addition, OCR found that the Law School did not adequately train individuals involved in implementing its sexual harassment policies and procedures. However, with respect to the complainant’s specific allegations, OCR determined that: 1) Harvard Law did not have a policy or practice of requiring complainants to choose between filing institutional and criminal claims; 2) in no instances did re-hearing cause undue delay; and 3) the Law School used a clear and convincing standard in violation of Title IX.

To remedy the violations, Harvard Law entered into a resolution agreement with OCR. As a part of the agreement, the Law School agreed to:
  • Revise its Law School “Sexual Harassment Resources and Procedures for Students” and submit it to OCR for approval;

  • Take any specific steps necessary to ensure coordination between the Law School and the University, including the Harvard University Police Department;

  • Publish an updated notice of non-discrimination, which would include a statement that inquiries concerning Title IX may be referred to the designated Title IX Coordinators or to OCR and would also provide contact information for those officials;

  • Provide regular in-person or online training to staff responsible for recognizing and reporting incidents of sex discrimination and staff who are involved in implementing Title IX policies;

  • Offer annual information sessions informing students about the Law School’s prohibition on sex discrimination and its Title IX policies;

  • Conduct an annual climate check to assess the effectiveness of the steps taken pursuant to its agreement; and

  • Review all sexual misconduct complaints for the previous two years to ensure that they were handled in a manner consistent with Title IX.

The parties agreed that OCR would supervise compliance with the agreement through October 1, 2015. Because there has been no further reported activity, the case is presumed closed.

Hope Brinn - 01/08/2019

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Sex discrimination
Failure to train
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Type of Facility
Non-government non-profit
Causes of Action Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq.
Defendant(s) Harvard Law School
Plaintiff Description The complainant was a student at Harvard Law School who alleged she was sexually assaulted by a fellow law student.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se Unknown
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2013 - 2015
Filed 2011
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Chronicle of Higher Education, Title IX Tracker: Harvard University
Chronicle of Higher Education
Date: Dec. 24, 2018
By: Chronicle of Higher Education
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  To the Harvard 19: Do Better
Huffington Post
Date: Mar. 25, 2016
By: Kamilah Willingham
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Professors Dispute Depiction of Harvard Case in Rape Documentary
New York Times
Date: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Cara Buckley
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
not recorded
[Notification letter for Harvard Law School]
ED-MA-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
not recorded
[Notification letter and data request for Harvard Law School]
ED-MA-0005-0004.pdf | Detail
not recorded
[Harvard Law School Letter of Findings]
ED-MA-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
not recorded
Resolution Agreement
ED-MA-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
not recorded
[Notification letter for Harvard University]
ED-MA-0005-0005.pdf | Detail
not recorded
[Notification letter and data request for Harvard University]
ED-MA-0005-0006.pdf | Detail
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Plaintiff's Lawyers Berner, Joel J. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs

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