OU cuts access to Title IX reports

Equal Opportunity, privacy, title IX

Change prioritizes student privacy, but is it at cost of public’s right to know?

Ohio University’s legal office said last week that it no longer will provide reports of investigations into student complaints that professors and staffers have violated federal Title IX non-discrimination policies.  This is a significant change in practice for the university, which up until this month had provided copies of its reports of an investigation conducted by OU’s Office for Equity and Civil Rights Compliance into student complaints.  In recent years, The Athens NEWS has published a number of articles based on those types of reports.


Barbara Nalazek, OU’s deputy general counsel, said in a statement last Monday that the university would decline to provide The NEWS with four copies of the investigatory reports – called Memorandum of Findings (MOFs) – that the university created based on student complaints against OU professors this year.  

For the full article, click here….

DOE investigating Title IX complaints from men who say it discriminates in support of women

Due Process, Equal Opportunity, title IX

A men’s rights activist who has used federal complaints to target women-only scholarships and programs is now trying to start a national movement to end what he sees as discrimination against men.

Over the past 15 months, the activist, Kursat Pekgoz, 31, a doctoral student in English literature at the University of Southern California, has filed federal Title IX complaints against three universities, and drafted complaints against three more, alleging that efforts to support female students are no longer necessary and amount to discrimination against male students. Once outnumbered, women now make up about 56.5 percent of students at American universities, notes Pekgoz, who has himself been the subject of a Title IX investigation into a sexual harassment allegation.  For the full article, click here…


He defended Michigan State vs. sexual assaults. Now he heads the Title IX Office

Due Process, Equal Opportunity, title IX

A Michigan State University attorney who defended the institution against sexual assault lawsuits is now heading the office handling sexual assault complaints — a move that is drawing criticism from victim advocates.

This month, Robert Kent was moved out of his assistant general counsel position and into the job of interim associate vice president of the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX Education and Compliance — a decision made by MSU Interim President John Engler that is drawing scrutiny from critics, who say the move could send a discouraging message from the university. msu

“At every turn, they signal an unwillingness to deal with the culture, and a message to survivors that their voices don’t matter,” said Rachael Denhollander, the first Larry Nassar sex assault victim to come forth publicly. She said, in her view, the appointment of Kent to handle Title IX cases was the latest in a string of insensitive moves.  For the full story, click here …

The Higher Ed. “Sham” Interview – A Title VII analysis of a common hiring scenario

Equal Opportunity, Labor Relations

While the unethical practice of conducting “sham” job interviews has been explored, considered and analyzed in the corporate setting and in sports, it has largely been ignored in higher education.  The “sham interview” of course being the practice of conducting a bad faith job interview where the unwitting candidate has no actual chance at being hired for the position, but the interview is offered despite this fact in order to satisy a diversity-driven quota, rule or requirement that the employer must meet.

To be sure, this practice is unethical and clearly erodes confidence in the hiring process.  But is it a violation of the law and illegal under Title VII?  This question presents uncharted ground in Title VII legal analysis.  Title VII, the federal law that prohibits most workplace harassment and discrimination, covers all private employers, state and local governments, and educational institutions with 15 or more employees.  In addition to prohibiting discrimination against workers because of race, color, national origin, religion, and sex, those protections have been extended to include barring against discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, sex stereotyping, and sexual harassment of employees.


In higher education, the sham interview is especially egregious because of the scarcity of resources of many institutions and the legal and PR fallout that may occur afterwards.  The practice may be found to be illegal not necessarily because of the act itself, but because the person who is ultimately hired for the position may not be as qualified or experienced as those who were given the “sham” interview.  If evidence reveals that the sham interview candidates were treated in this way due to race, color, national origin, etc., then a claim would be actionable under Title VII.

Best practice dictates that higher education employers avoid “sham” interviews and only interview candidates who are qualified and who have an actual good-faith opportunity to be hired for the postion.  See 2004 WL 2075159 for the financial impact in higher education for conducting sham interviews and a subsequent Title VII claim.