Legal Translation for Sexual Harassment Cases on College Campuses

Legal Translation Services to Prevent Sexual Harassment in Schools

We’ve blogged about how legal translation services play a part in an effective anti-sexual harassment policy, the need to translate harassment policy and Employee Handbooks into the languages of LEP employees to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and about academic document translation services for university and college students.  As reports of sexual harassment and assault both on and off college campuses continue to increase, universities and employers alike must translate their sexual harassment policies and procedures from English to Spanish, Russian, Korean, Chinese, Persian, Turkish, Arabic, other languages to ensure that their students’ and employees’ rights are sufficiently and consistently protected. Continued efforts must be made to not only reduce the instances of sexual harassment and assault, but to educate victims of sexual assault, particularly those with limited English proficiency, who may not be aware of their rights under the various state and federal laws designed to protect them.

In the following rather unique case, a male student was allowed to prosecute a Title IX claim against a university for failing to properly respond to allegations of sexual assault that the male student made against a female student.

Legal Translation Services for Legal Actions under Title IX

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 reads:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

In Saravanan v. Drexel University, the plaintiff was a South Asian male and a member of the Indian race (hereafter, “the male student”). The male student filed a lawsuit against Drexel University (“University”) pursuant to Title IX for reverse discrimination and deliberate indifference; Title VI; Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act; and several state law claims after he was expelled from the university following his reported complaints of sexual harassment/assault by a female student.

In his lawsuit, the male student claimed that a female student sexually assaulted him on August 18, 2015 and then stalked him in an attempt to force him to remain quiet about the assault. Specifically, the male student alleged that the female student threatened to tell their social group that he was gay, forced him to buy her gifts, and generally bullied, stalked, slapped, and ridiculed him so that he would not report the assault to the university. Despite the alleged abuse, the male student allegedly reported the sexual assault by the female student to the University on at least two occasions. However, the University informed him that they could not investigate the matter unless other victims came forward.

The male student then obtained an order of protection against the female student, which she allegedly violated. When the male student submitted the documents to the University for service upon the female student for violating the order of protection, a University employee informed the male student that “I don’t think we do that for guys, I am pretty sure that’s for girls only, but let me check that and I will get back to you.” The employee also allegedly informed the male student that he had “never heard of a female raping a male,” and directed the male student to take his complaints to the Philadelphia Police Department instead of the University. The male student alleged that he reported the assault to no less than seven employees who had authority to take action regarding his complaint but that each of them chose to “do nothing” in response.

At some point after the male student complained about being assaulted by a female student, the female student in turn filed a complaint against him for stalking and sexual harassment. A disciplinary hearing took place, and the university found the male student guilty. The male student was consequently expelled from the university.

Legal Translation of Title IX Claims

In regards to his claim against the university for Title IX violations, the male student alleged that he was discriminated against on the basis of his gender. Specifically, he claimed that the university failed to properly investigate his complaint and imposed excessive and severe sanctions against him because of his gender. In support of this claim, the male student cited to the fact that the university stated that they do not enforce orders of protection against male students, among other things. The court held that the male student had alleged a possible culture of “gender bias” against males who made claims of sexual assault against females. The court held that the statements made by the university employees, in conjunction with its failure to respond to the male student’s complaint, along with other factors, suggested that gender bias was a motivating factor behind the erroneous outcome in the male student’s disciplinary proceeding.

Court Allows Male College Student to Pursue Title IX Claim Against University for Expelling Him After Reporting Sexual Assault by Female Student

Regarding his Title VI claim, the male student alleged he was discriminated against on the basis of his race. In order to succeed on this claim, the male student had to allege “intentional discrimination and that he was a member of a protected class and that he suffered an adverse action “under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination.” The court found that although he had met the first three elements of a prima facie Title VI claim, he failed to establish that he suffered adversity under circumstances giving rise to an inference of discrimination. The court found that although the male student claimed that a staff member said something to him about “English lessons,” that he had failed to plead the context in which the statement was made. In addition, the court noted that the male student claimed he was a native English speaker. The court also rejected the male student’s claim that the University treated non-Indian subjects of disciplinary proceedings better than it treated him because he had not plead any facts to support this allegation.

The court also similarly rejected his Section 1981 claim for violations of the Civil Rights Act. The court held that the plaintiff had failed to provide any factual support for his allegation that the University favored the female student because she is white and failed to plead facts that demonstrated that the University purposefully discriminated against him because of his race. Accordingly, the court held that the case would proceed against Drexel University under a Title IX “erroneous outcome” theory and pursuant to two state law claims for breach of contract and unfair trade practices.

The case is Saravanan v. Drexel University, Civil Action No. 17-3409, decided on November 24, 2017 by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

* This law translation blog article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. You should always consult an attorney regarding your specific legal situation.*

Legal Translation Services for Title IX Investigators and Coordinators

Contact legal document translation service All Language Alliance, Inc. to obtain certified legal translation services in more than 100 foreign languages, including hard-to-find, rare and exotic foreign languages, such as Amharic, Mongolian, Nepali, Anuak, Bosnian, Persian, Romanian Tigrinya, Chinese, Burmese, Greek, Cantonese, French, Tagalog, Arabic, to enforce Title IX policies and prevent sexual harassment on college campuses.  We also provide legal interpreters in all foreign languages for Title IX investigators and coordinators, and for the Civil Rights Compliance Offices.

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