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San Jose State University To Pay $1.6 Million And Implement Corrective Measures To Remedy Title IX Violations
On September 21, 2021, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California reached a settlement with San Jose State University (SJSU) in response to an investigation conducted by the Justice Department under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) that uncovered over a decade of inadequate responses to reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault made by female student-athletes against an SJSU athletic trainer.
The Justice Department’s investigation specifically found that beginning in 2009, female student-athletes reported to SJSU that an athletic trainer subjected them to repeated, unwelcome sexual touching of their breasts, groins, buttocks, and/or pubic areas during treatment in the campus training facilities and that SJSU ineffectively responded to the reports, which exposed additional student-athletes to harm. The Justice Department also found that SJSU retaliated against two employees for reporting the allegations made against the athletic trainer to school officials. The first employee repeatedly reported the allegations to school officials and eventually reported them to the NCAA because the employee felt that SJSU was not adequately addressing the allegations. SJSU gave the employee low-performance evaluations and admonished the employee as a result. After the second employee reported the allegations to school officials, SJSU reduced the employee’s job responsibilities and ultimately terminated the employee.
The agreement requires SJSU to pay $1.6 million dollars to the individuals who were sexually harassed by the athletic trainer and who participated in the investigation. The agreement also requires SJSU to take other measures, such as:
Significantly improve SJSU’s process for responding to complaints of sexual harassment;
Bolster the Title IX Office by revising the office structure and providing adequate authority, independence, and resources to the Title IX Coordinator;
Publicize Title IX policies and protocols and develop user-friendly materials so everyone in the SJSU community knows how to report Title IX concerns;
Improve the policies and procedures of the SJSU Sports Medicine and Athletic Training Program to prevent sexual harassment by athletic trainers;
Deliver training to student-athletes and SJSU Athletics employees on giving and receiving informed consent for medical treatments and athletic training services;
Survey SJSU Athletics employees to assess their understanding of SJSU policies and identify barriers to reporting;
Take concrete steps to prevent retaliation under Title IX, including through training that provides clear examples of prohibited conduct; and
Provide supportive measures and remedies to current and former student-athletes who were sexually harassed by the athletic trainer.
The Summary of the Department’s Title IX Investigation of San Jose State University and Related Findings can be found here, and the Resolution Agreement between The United States of America and San Jose State University can be found here.
Regardless of whether Title IX applies, private K-12 schools, colleges, and universities have a duty to take appropriate steps to address and correct reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault against their students by employees.