Sexual harassment is a widespread problem in a range of employment settings, but it can also take place in the university. State and federal laws protect victims of sexual harassment and institutions can be held accountable for failing to take action. According to CNN, federal investigators have been scrutinizing 55 colleges and universities nationwide to determine if they illegally mishandled sexual harassment and violence complaints. The U.S. Department of Education has announced that the investigations includes colleges and universities in 27 states and in D.C.
Private and public institutions can be held liable for sexual harassment. Whether the victim is one student or the institution has a record of discriminatory practices or policies will determine the ultimately liability. Our Orange County sexual harassment attorneys are dedicated to protecting victims and to preventing future cases. We will take a strategic and informed approach to any allegation, determine the best course of action, and take aggressive steps to help victims achieve justice.
In the university investigations, federal agencies assert that they are looking to create transparency in the system to improve future response actions. The agency has also released the names of the universities which are under investigation to improve public awareness and to make victims informed of their rights. The agencies are also reminding students and other civil rights advocates that just because a university is the target of an investigation, it has not necessarily violated the law.
The University of California-Berkeley, has provided an immediate response to the investigation and sent out a campus-wide letter saying that assault will not be tolerated. Other universities have also agreed to cooperate with the investigations and to work internally to correct the problems. While one problem seems to be sexual assault, including rape on campus, another is general harassment and general misconduct on campus. There are ongoing investigations at many of the universities so many have refused to comment.
In addition to internal investigations, some universities have appointed their own lawyers or designated Title IX directors to address the campus-wide sexual assault and harassment problems. Under Title IX, schools are required to ensure that students are not denied or limited to participate in educational opportunities because of their sex. President Barack Obama has called universities, students, and nationwide support in protecting college students from violence on campus.
The investigations were spurred from sexual violence and harassment complaints have occurred on campuses nationwide and the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights has seen a three-fold increase in complaints since 2009. These are not isolated incidences, but there is a culture of sexual harassment and abuse that has gone ignored and potentially illegally mishandled. Advocates hope to raise awareness to improve students’ access to resources, to encourage speaking out, and to inform victims of their rights.
Employee sexual harassment claims are different from Title IX claims; however, students do have legal rights that give them the opportunity to take action against universities. In many cases, students have been mistreated and university employees have failed to meet federal standards. Students can file complaints with the Office of Civil Rights and should consult with an independent advocate if they have suffered from sexual harassment.
Employment lawsuits can be filed with assistance from the Nassiri Law Group, practicing in Los Angeles, Riverside, and Orange County. Call 949.375.4734.
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