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Disparate treatment on the basis of sex during a Title IX disciplinary proceeding can support a Title IX claim

California

,

USA

The Ninth Circuit reinstated a Title IX sex discrimination claim filed by a male student based on his treatment in Title IX disciplinary proceedings instituted after a former female student accused him of misconduct In Doe v. Regents of the University of California, 20-55831 (9th Cir. 2022), Doe alleged that UCLA violated Title IX when it discriminated against him on the basis of sex in the course of a Title IX disciplinary proceeding. The district court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss after concluding that Doe’s allegations were insufficient to state a Title IX claim under either the erroneous outcome theory or the selective enforcement theory. Doe appealed. The relevant inquiry on a motion to dismiss a Title IX claim asserted in the disciplinary proceeding context is whether the alleged facts, if true, raise a plausible inference that the university discriminated against the plaintiff on the basis of sex The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit clarified that the relevant inquiry on the motion to dismiss should have been whether Doe’s alleged facts, if true, raised a plausible inference that the university discriminated against him on the basis of sex. A Title IX plaintiff need only provide enough facts to state a claim that is plausible on its face. There is no heightened pleading standard for Title IX claims and a party stating a Title IX claim does not need to meet the doctrinal tests, such as the erroneous outcome or selective enforcement theories, imposed by some circuits. Additionally, sex discrimination need not be the only or even the most, plausible explanation for the university’s conduct in order for a Title IX claim to proceed. Doe’s allegations of external pressures, internal pattern, and practice of bias, and of specific instances of bias in Doe’s disciplinary proceedings, gave rise to a plausible inference that the University discriminated against Doe on the basis of sex Doe alleged that external pressures impacted how the University treated respondents in sexual misconduct disciplinary proceedings on the basis of sex. He also alleged that the University engaged in asymmetrical enforcement of their sexual misconduct policies and alleged specific procedural irregularities in the investigation and proceedings of his case which supported an inference of gender bias. The Court found that when taken together, Doe’s allegations of external pressures, internal pattern, and practice of bias, and of specific instances of bias in Doe’s disciplinary proceedings, gave rise to a plausible inference that the University discriminated against Doe on the basis of sex. Disposition The Court found that Doe sufficiently stated a Title IX claim and reversed, vacated, and remanded the dismissal order of the district court.

April 14, 2022
Doe v. Regents of the University of California, 20-55831 (9th Cir. 2022)
Federal Courts (9th Circuit)