Equity in Athletics Litigation
By means of federal litigation to enforce Title IX, the WLP has done much to improve female athletic opportunities in Pennsylvania:
- The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) on April 5, 2012 informed the New Hope-Solebury School District (NHSSD), which is located in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, that it has “not fulfilled any of the provisions” of its agreement (see below) to bring its athletic program into compliance with Title IX. Read more.
- On May 16, 2011, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) entered into a resolution agreement with New Hope Solebury School District (NHSSD) in which NHSSD agreed to provide participation opportunities for female and male students that equally effectively accommodate the athletic interests of both sexes, and to provide the girls’ athletics program as a whole with locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities comparable to those provided to the boys’ program. By September 1, 2011, NHSSD will submit documentation to OCR to demonstrate compliance with Title IX’s participation opportunities. By October 3, 2011, NHSSD will provide OCR with a report of its assessment of the comparability of locker rooms, practice and competitive facilities and, if it determines such facilities are not comparable, NHSSD will submit a corrective plan to OCR by December 1, 2011. In March 2008, WLP had filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, asserting Title IX violations by NHSSD. The complaint alleged violations in the number of athletic opportunities offered and the relative treatment of male/female teams in the district.
- On December 20, 2010, a settlement agreement was approved at a fairness hearing in the Title IX Class Action lawsuit against Delaware State University (DSU) brought by members of its women’s equestrian team The settlement is aimed at achieving gender equity in an athletic program that has short-changed female athletes for decades.
- In 2007, the WLP and legal firm partner Flaster/Greenberg, P.C. achieved a victory at Slippery Rock University. Choike et al v. Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania was brought on behalf oftwelve female athletes after the university decided to eliminate many women's teams. The U.S. District Court ordered Slippery Rock to reinstate the varsity teams, and in April 2007, they reached a comprehensive settlement to rectify decades-long gender inequity in Slippery Rock’s athletics programs. (See Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Consent Order). On February 16, 2010, the Court approved Amendments to Settlement Agreements and Hearing in Choide et al. v. Slippery Rock University (more on Slippery Rock case).
- In Kemether v. PIAA and Del Val, the WLP represented a basketball official denied access to boys’ varsity games. A pre-trial settlement in July 1998 committed Del Val to assigning at least five boys’ and five girls’ varsity games to the plaintiff annually for seven years and to a new gender-neutral system of evaluating officials and assigning games. Following a December 1998 jury verdict in the plaintiff’s favor and an appeal by the defendant, a full settlement with the PIAA was reached. The WLP later had to file an enforcement action.
- The WLP represented a female basketball athlete in a Title IX lawsuit against Sacred Heart University that claimed the young woman encountered discrimination because of her pregnancy. In a joint statement released in October 2003, the university did not admit to wrongdoing, but agreed to clarify its existing policy against discrimination on the basis of sex and additionally clarified that a student’s scholarship, academic enrollment or team status for the season could not be affected by pregnancy.
- In 1995, the WLP represented families of girls in Downingtown, PA, whose junior high did not offer any girls’ soccer or softball teams but sponsored many boys’ teams The WLP outlined the Board of School Directors’ responsibilities under Title IX, influencing a decision to improve girls athletics. The girls of Downingtown were able to play soccer within a year of the original petition.
- In 1994, the WLP filed a complaint against the University of Pennsylvania with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights on behalf of women athletes and coaches of women sports. In a resulting settlement, the university agreed to increase funding for women’s sports and provide equitable equipment, coaching and facilities for female athletes. The agreement helped increase participation in women’s athletics and resulted in a higher percentage of the university’s athletic operating budget allocated to women’s sports.