Case: Department of Education OCR Investigation of City University of New York Hunter College

02-13-2052 | No Court

Filed Date: Oct. 31, 2016

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On December 19, 2012, a student at City University of New York, Hunter College filed a complaint with the US Department of Education, New York Office for Civil Rights (OCR) alleging that her biology professor sexually harassed her on two separate occasions. In addition, the complainant asserted that Hunter College retaliated against her for reporting the sexual harassment by preventing her from registering for classes and failing to modify payment terms for outstanding tuition. On February 8, 2…

On December 19, 2012, a student at City University of New York, Hunter College filed a complaint with the US Department of Education, New York Office for Civil Rights (OCR) alleging that her biology professor sexually harassed her on two separate occasions. In addition, the complainant asserted that Hunter College retaliated against her for reporting the sexual harassment by preventing her from registering for classes and failing to modify payment terms for outstanding tuition. On February 8, 2013, OCR announced that it was opening an investigation into the allegations.

On October 21, 2016, OCR published that CUNY’s grievance procedure did not comply with Title IX. With respect to the complainant, OCR determined that the College's response was neither prompt nor equitable. Hunter College took four months to complete the investigation into the complainant's allegations and did not provide her with an outcome until seven months after she filed the complaint (though it immediately provided notice of the outcome to the accused professor). Furthermore, OCR determined that the College failed to investigate whether the complainant had experienced a hostile environment as a result of the professor’s conduct. However, OCR found that there was insufficient evidence to support that Hunter College retaliated against the complainant since the alleged adverse actions took place before the complainant had engaged in any protected activity under Title IX.

In addition to reviewing the complainant’s case file, OCR also reviewed twelve other investigative files from the prior two academic years. In its review, OCR identified a number of Title IX concerns and violations. For instance, in one case, the Hunter College failed to provide a prompt and equitable investigation. In five cases, the College failed to complete the investigation and thus provided no resolution at all.

Hunter College did not execute a resolution agreement within the ninety-day negotiation period following OCR’s announcement that the school was in violation of Title IX. On the tenth day of the ten-day period following OCR’s notification of impasse, college officials agreed to enter into a resolution agreement on October 27, 2016. As a part of the agreement, the College agreed to:

  • Update all relevant documents to include the correct contact information for the Title IX Coordinator;
  • Revise its notice of nondiscrimination to state that inquiries related to Title IX can be directed to the Title IX Coordinator or OCR’s Assistant Secretary;
  • Revise its grievance procedures to conform with Title IX;
  • Issue a memorandum to all responsible employees informing them how to respond to any sexual misconduct;
  • Train all responsible employees on their duties and the College’s revised policies;
  • Establish a committee comprised of students, faculty, and staff who provide feedback on the school’s Title IX policies;
  • Train students on the school’s sexual misconduct policy;
  • Conduct a bi-annual climate survey containing questions related to students’ knowledge of and experience with sex discrimination issues;
  • Create a process for responding to sexual misconduct that occurs in students’ internship placements, including a process to place students with a new host facility;
  • Assess whether the complainant was subjected to a hostile environment and provide redress as appropriate;
  • Assess whether the other twelve cases reviewed by OCR subjected other complainants to hostile environments and provide redress as appropriate;
  • Submit all new sexual misconduct complaints to OCR by June 1 each year through June 2020; and
  • Submit to ongoing monitoring by OCR.

 

OCR will oversee compliance with the resolution agreement until at least June 2020.

Summary Authors

Hope Brinn (12/24/2018)

People


Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Blanchard, Timothy C.J. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Schaffer, Frederick P. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Blanchard, Timothy C.J. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Schaffer, Frederick P. (New York)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

02-13-2052

[Notification letter for City University of New York Hunter College]

Feb. 8, 2013

Feb. 8, 2013

Notice Letter

02-13-2052

[Notification letter and data request for City University of New York Hunter College]

Feb. 8, 2013

Feb. 8, 2013

Notice Letter

02-13-2052

Resolution Agreement

Oct. 31, 2016

Oct. 31, 2016

Settlement Agreement

02-13-2052

[Hunter College Letter of Findings]

Oct. 31, 2016

Oct. 31, 2016

Findings Letter/Report

02-17-2091

[Notification letter for City University of New York Hunter College]

May 4, 2017

May 4, 2017

Notice Letter

02-17-2091

[Notification letter and data request for City University of New York Hunter College]

May 4, 2017

May 4, 2017

Notice Letter

Resources

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: New York

Case Type(s):

Education

Special Collection(s):

Title IX, Sexual Violence Investigations/Resolutions

Key Dates

Filing Date: Oct. 31, 2016

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

A student at City University of New York, Hunter College who alleged that she had been sexually harassed by her professor.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Unknown

Filed Pro Se: Unknown

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

City University of New York, Hunter College (New York, New York), State

Defendant Type(s):

College/University

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq.

Special Case Type(s):

Out-of-court

Availably Documents:

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Order Duration: 2016 - 2020

Content of Injunction:

Develop anti-discrimination policy

Implement complaint/dispute resolution process

Monitoring

Recordkeeping

Reporting

Training

Issues

Discrimination-basis:

Sex discrimination

Affected Gender:

Female

Type of Facility:

Government-run