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Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C.S. § 1681 et seq., broadly prohibits a funding recipient from subjecting any person to discrimination on the basis of sex. 20 U.S.C.S. § 1681. Retaliation against a person because that person has complained of sex discrimination is another form of intentional sex discrimination encompassed by Title IX's private cause of action. Retaliation is, by definition, an intentional act. It is a form of "discrimination" because the complainant is being subjected to differential treatment. Moreover, retaliation is discrimination "on the basis of sex" because it is an intentional response to the nature of the complaint: an allegation of sex discrimination. The United State Supreme Court concludes that when a funding recipient retaliates against a person because he complains of sex discrimination, this constitutes intentional discrimination on the basis of sex in violation of Title IX.
After a girls' basketball coach at a public high school complained unsuccessfully to his supervisor that the team was not receiving equal funding and equal access to athletic equipment and facilities, the coach began to receive negative work evaluations and ultimately was removed as the girls' coach. He brought against the local board of education a suit alleging that (1) the board had retaliated against him because he had complained about sex discrimination against the girls' team, and (2) such retaliation violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C.S. §§ 1681 et seq.), which, in 20 U.S.C.S. § 1681(a), required that no person "on the basis of sex" be "subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." The United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama dismissed the complaint on the ground that Title IX's private cause of action did not include claims of retaliation. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, affirming, held that (1) Title IX did not provide a private right of action for retaliation, and (2) even if Title IX prohibited retaliation, the coach would not have been entitled to relief, as he was not within the class of persons protected by the statute.
Does private right of action implied by Title IX (20 U.S.C.S. §§ 1681 et seq.) for victims of sex discrimination by recipients of federal education funds encompass claims of retaliation for complaining about sex discrimination?
The court reasoned that retaliation against a person because that person has complained of sex discrimination was another form of intentional sex discrimination encompassed by Title IX's private cause of action. Thus, it concluded that if the school board had retaliated against the teacher because he had complained of sex discrimination, this would have constituted intentional discrimination on the basis of sex in violation of Title IX. The court also held that Title IX itself supplied sufficient notice to the board that it could not retaliate against the teacher after he complained of discrimination against the girls' basketball team; therefore private damages might become appropriate.