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New Cases and Developments

NACUA's Legal Resources staff summarizes current higher education cases and developments and provides the full text of selected cases to members. New cases and developments are archived here for up to 12 months.

Dates
Sex Discrimination; Retaliation; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Wallace v. Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System (M.D. La. Dec. 6, 2016)

A tenured female professor at Southeastern Louisiana University claimed that, in addition to being paid less than her male colleagues, the Dean of the business school retaliated against her after she rejected his sexual advances and complained of sex discrimination. Given the dispute surrounding whether Plaintiff performed work requiring equal skill, effort, and responsibility as that of her male counterparts, Plaintiff raised genuine issues of material fact sufficient to support an Equal Pay Act claim. Factual issues also remained with regard to whether Plaintiff’s work required substantially similar responsibility as that of her male counterparts, thus satisfying the prima facie requirements of a Title VII claim. Finally, the pattern of actions by the Dean and the University’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Compliance Officer could arguably be interpreted as actions that would dissuade a reasonable employee from filing a discrimination claim. Thus, the Court denied the Board’s motion for summary judgment. 

12/10/2016
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Antitrust; Athletics Operations; Authorizations & Regulations; Athletics & Sports

Pugh v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (S.D. Ind. Dec. 6, 2016)

A Division I athlete at Weber State University sought to transfer after his grant-in-aid was not renewed for his second year. However, because the NCAA's transfer bylaw required Plaintiff to sit out of competition for a full season, he was ineligible for grants-in-aid contingent on his ability to play two more years of football. Plaintiff filed a class action suit against the NCAA asserting that its bylaws relating to multi-year scholarships and transfer violated the Sherman Act as an unreasonable restraint on trade. Previously, the Court granted the NCAA's partial motion to dismiss the claims as they related to NCAA transfer bylaws. Here, the Court found that there was enough factual overlap between the still-pending scholarship-related claims and the dismissed transfer-related claims to render them inseparable for purposes of entering final judgment. Plaintiff also failed to persuade the Court that there was no just reason for delaying the appeal of the transfer claims. Finally, the Court refused to certify an interlocutory appeal of the transfer claims.

12/8/2016
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Constitutional Issues; Due Process; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity; Sex Discrimination; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Title IX

John Doe I and John Doe II v. Cummins (6th Cir. Dec. 6, 2016)

Following an investigation and a hearing, two male students at the University of Cincinnati were independently found responsible for sexual misconduct. They filed suit against the University and several institutional administrators for alleged due process violations based on biased investigations, improper admission of hearsay evidence, failure to allow cross-examination of adverse witnesses, and denying effective assistance of counsel, among other procedural deficiencies. On appeal, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal for failure to state a claim. While the weight of the students’ private interests was substantial, given the serious nature of sexual offenses, both students received adequate notice of the charges, the supposed defects in their initial hearings were cured on appeal, and they both had meaningful opportunities to be heard. Appellants also failed to state a viable Title IX claim with respect to the disciplinary process. At most, the alleged deficiencies indicated that the disciplinary system was biased in favor of alleged victims, which does not equate to gender discrimination.

12/8/2016
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Age Discrimination; Discrimination, Accommodation, & Diversity

Filipek v. Oakton Community College (N.D. Ill. Dec. 6, 2016)

Three Plaintiffs brought suit against Oakton Community College (OCC) alleging that the College instituted a policy of not employing any part-time faculty members who are annuitants of the State University Retirement System, in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). OCC moved for abstention pending the determination of an unfair labor practice charge filed by an adjunct faculty labor union. The Court refused, concluding that this case was not parallel to the unfair labor proceeding because the two cases do not present the same legal issues. Moreover, although a favorable ruling in the unfair labor practice hearing would likely amount to an order to bargain in good faith to change the policy, it would not necessarily result in relief for the faculty members with regard to their claim of age discrimination. 

12/8/2016
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Academic Misconduct; Athletics Compliance (NCAA & more); Students; Athletics & Sports

National Collegiate Athletic Association Public Infractions Decision Regarding Former California State University, Northridge Director of Basketball Operations (Dec. 7, 2016)

Public infractions decision by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) involving the former director of basketball operations at California State University, Northridge. The NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions concluded that the former director completed coursework for ten student-athletes and submitted the coursework on their behalf for fraudulent academic credit. The University admitted that it failed to monitor the former director’s activities and to take adequate steps to investigate reports of misconduct when they first surfaced. The NCAA placed the University on three years' probation, fined the university $5,000 plus one percent of the men's basketball budget, imposed a five-year show-cause order on the former director, and vacated all wins for games in which the players involved participated. 

12/8/2016
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FLSA & Categorization of Employees; Student Athlete Issues; Faculty & Staff; Athletics & Sports

Berger v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (7th Cir. Dec. 5, 2016)

Several former student athletes at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) sued the University, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and over 120 other NCAA Division I universities, asserting that student athletes are employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and thus entitled to minimum wage. The District Court found that Appellants lacked standing to sue any of the Appellees aside from Penn and failed to state a claim against Penn. The Seventh Circuit affirmed. Appellants’ connection to the NCAA and the institutions other than Penn was too tenuous to be considered an employment relationship. Moreover, the “extracurricular” nature of student athletics and the long tradition of amateurism in NCAA athletics foreclosed the possibility that the FLSA applied to student athletes.

12/7/2016
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Title IX; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence

Moore v. Regents of the University of California (N.D. Cal. Dec. 5, 2016)

A female student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, sued the University, claiming that it responded with deliberate indifference when she reported her alleged sexual assault. In dismissing Plaintiff’s Second Amended Complaint and granting leave to amend, the Court found that the University’s actions were not "clearly unreasonable in light of the known circumstances” because of the factual ambiguities surrounding her request for an investigation and deficiencies in her pleadings. Here, Plaintiff’s Third Amended Complaint failed to supplement, clarify, or explain her prior allegations, leading the Court to conclude that granting further leave to amend would be futile. It thus dismissed the case. 

12/7/2016
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First Amendment & Free Speech; Social Media; Sexual Misconduct & Other Campus Violence; Title IX; Constitutional Issues; Faculty & Staff; Retaliation

Yeasin v. Durham (D. Kan. Dec. 1, 2016)

The Vice Provost of Student Affairs at the University of Kansas expelled Plaintiff for posting comments on social media about his ex-girlfriend, another student at the University, that were found to be so "severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive" that they interfered with his ex-girlfriend’s education. Plaintiff sued, claiming that the Vice Provost had retaliated against him in violation of his First Amendment rights. Acknowledging that circuit courts have come to conflicting conclusions about whether institutions can punish students for online speech made off-campus, the Court held that the University likely had the authority to take action against Plaintiff because his comments implicated the Student Code of Conduct, the University's sexual harassment policy, and Title IX. Moreover, even if Plaintiff had the right to post the comments, the First Amendment right allegedly violated by the Vice Provost was not clearly established such that it would have been clear that the expulsion was unlawful. 

12/6/2016
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