Supreme Court rules on Title IX speaking rights

by Brady Averill

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that neither men nor women who complain about unequal treatment under Title IX can be retaliated against.

Title IX protects people from being excluded, on the basis of gender, from participating in a program at a place of education that receives federal funds.

The court voted 5-4 that Title IX authorizes a federal lawsuit by Roderick Jackson, a public high school girls’ basketball coach in Birmingham, Ala., who was allegedly fired for complaining about unequal funding and unequal access to equipment and facilities.

University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg said the court’s ruling is significant, but Minnesota already has a law banning retaliation. He said the ruling provides a legal remedy for those who feel they have been retaliated against because they alleged a Title IX violation.

In his 13 years as general counsel for the University, Rotenberg said, the institution has had a “fine” record of not engaging in illegal retaliation.

Mike Hebert, the Gophers volleyball coach, said he’s always felt the University has had an open environment for expressing views.

“I have never been in a situation where either myself or coaches that I worked with feared expressing their opinion,” Hebert said.

Rotenberg said the University encourages employees to come forward, “with good faith,” with claims to the appropriate officials.

Hebert said he has coached at four different universities and was never a victim of retaliation.

But he said he knows of cases at higher education institutions where people were retaliated against because they alleged unequal treatment under Title IX.

Gary Wilson, the Gophers women’s track and field and cross country coach, said he thinks most people don’t have a problem with Title IX, but there are some. Those who don’t support Title IX can make life difficult for people who claim unequal treatment, he said.

Wilson said University Athletics Director Joel Maturi is one of the biggest proponents of Title IX in the country.

Wilson said, “I think (the ruling) is fine. You’d like to think you don’t have to have these things”

Gophers wrestling coach J Robinson has been vocal about unfair treatment at the University.

He said that he approves of the ruling if it allows coaches of men’s sports to be open about unequal treatment.

He feels he has been retaliated against in the past for views he has expressed, Robinson said.