Third Circuit rules for Temple University in Title IX case

By Shanice Harris | Feb 24, 2017

PHILADELPHIA – Temple University recently prevailed in a lawsuit filed against it by a former member of the school's track and field team, when the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the trial court's entry of summary judgment on a finding that the plaintiff's claims of gender-based discrimination were time-barred.

Moore v. Temple University was filed by plaintiff Ebony Nicole Moore and decided by the Third Circuit Jan. 4.

“The trial court ruled in favor of Temple primarily on the ground that Ms. Moore’s Title IX claims, as well as those she brought under 42 U.S.C. §1983, were time-barred as she filed suit beyond the applicable two-year statute of limitations,” Michael P. McKeon, member of Pullman & Comley, LLC, told the Pennsylvania Record.

“On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed the trial court for the same reasons.”

Moore alleged that she had been bullied and sexually harassed on Temple University’s grounds. During Moore’s time on the school’s track and field team, she alleges that she was harassed by her coaches and teammates.

On May 4, 2011, the university’s athletic department held a meeting to discuss the allegations. Hours later, Moore informed her coach that she would not be attending a team competition later that season because of studying for final exams.

Because of this, her coach recommended that Moore’s athletic scholarship not be renewed for the upcoming year and that she be removed from the team.

On May 11, Moore was given a letter stating that her scholarship had not been renewed. She filed a grievance with Temple, but ultimately, an appeals panel upheld the decision. Moore was granted a different scholarship so she could complete her education.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal law that prohibits gender-based discrimination, harassment, or retaliation against students who are in education institutions that receive federal funding, according to McKeon.

This typically includes all public K-12 schools and most colleges and universities.

“Title IX protects students against discriminatory or sexually harassing behavior that is committed by an educational entity that is a federal fund recipient, by its employees, or by other students,” McKeon said. “Title IX requires schools that are covered thereunder to have a Title IX grievance procedure which students who believe they have been victims of gender-based discrimination or sexual harassment – including sexual assault – can use to seek redress for allegedly discriminatory conduct.

" Title IX also requires that covered schools have a Title IX coordinator, who charged with investigating and otherwise responding to these complaints.”

In this case, Moore did not choose to pursue a Title IX grievance, but instead focused on pursuing the alleged unfair treatment she received from her track coach and the athletic department — who dismissed her scholarship — through the department’s internal Athletic Appeals Panel. If she would have filed a grievance, she could have challenged the decision.

“She may then have been able to claim that the Title IX process and determination was a continuation of an ongoing pattern of discrimination and harassment, thereby meaning that the statute of limitations would not have started to run until the end of the Title IX process,” said McKeon.

“Thereby perhaps saving her claims against her teammates, coach and athletic department from being deemed time-barred.”

Moore graduated from Temple University in December 2012 and no further action was sought against Moore’s coaches or teammates.

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