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Attorney Naomi R. Shatz spoke to Commonwealth Magazine about the Department of Higher Education’s first report to the legislature on campus sexual assault statistics. In January 2021, Governor Baker signed into law An Act relative to sexual violence on higher education campuses,” which we have previously discussed here. The law requires higher education institutions in Massachusetts to report annual sexual misconduct statistics to the Department of Higher Education, which in turn reports those aggregated statistics to the legislature. For the first reporting year, covering data for 2020, campuses reported a total of 901 sexual misconduct complaints. The data indicates that fewer than one third of these reported cases proceeded through adjudication to a determination of whether the school’s sexual misconduct policy was violated. The article is available here. 

Attorney Naomi R. Shatz spoke to Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly about a recent First Circuit decision in Doe v. Stonehill College, where the First Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of a student’s breach of contract claims arising out of a sexual misconduct disciplinary process. The First Circuit held that the student had stated a claim for breach of contract based on various provisions in the school’s policies that had not been followed as the student expected they would. As Attorney Shatz told Massachusetts Lawyer’s Weekly, what is particularly interesting about the decision is that [I]n assessing whether the school provided a fair process, the court really got into the nitty-gritty of how the people investigating and adjudicating the case at the school made their decisions and whether those decisions were reasonable.The article is available here, and Attorney Shatz’s blog post on the case is available here. 

The Baltimore Sun ran a story this week on Title IX complaints brought by six University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) swim team members, one of whom is represented by Zalkind Law. As the story explains, a law firm hired by UMBC recently finished an eighteen-month investigation into the swim team members’ sexual assault and harassment allegations against their former coach. The investigation found that the coach sexually harassed his male players and created a hostile environment by touching their genitals and buttocks, and attempting to kiss them, among other inappropriate behavior. According to the Sun, the Department of Justice is now investigating whether the school violated Title IX in its handling of this situation.

The full story is available here.

Attorney David A. Russcol spoke to Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly about a recent First Circuit decision in Doe v. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where the First Circuit addressed for the first time when a litigant can proceed under a pseudonym. The First Circuit held that courts must look at the totality of the circumstances in deciding whether litigating under a pseudonym is appropriate in a given case. The underlying case was brought by a student who had been found responsible for sexual misconduct at his university, and was arguing that the school’s proceedings that led to that determination were improper. One factor Attorney Russcol identified as weighing in favor of pseudonyms in these types of campus discipline cases is that “the purpose of the proceedings is not to determine the truth of the underlying allegations but merely whether a university followed its established procedures,” making the identify of the litigant less relevant than in other types of cases. The article is available here.

See below for press coverage on the retaliation claim filed by Attorney David A. Russcol against the Town of Williamstown on behalf of a police sergeant who blew the whistle on discrimination, retaliation, and police misconduct. For coverage of the sergeant’s underlying suit, click here.

Attorneys Naomi R. Shatz and David A. Russcol spoke to Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly about a recent decision in Harrington v. Lesley College reaffirming that university employees can bring sex-discrimination claims under both Title IX and Title VII. Shatz said “I’m frankly surprised that attorneys for schools, especially in the 1st Circuit, are still making the argument that Title IX does not apply to employees when the case law is clear that it does.” Russcol agreed, noting, “Congress can prescribe different sets of procedures and remedies for different wrongs, even if sometimes more than one applies to the same person. It is important that all these avenues remain open to plaintiffs in appropriate situations.” Click here to read more.

Attorney Naomi R. Shatz spoke to the Boston Globe about the SJC Standing Committee on Lawyer Well-Being’s recent recommendations to the legal community about creating flexible, inclusive workplaces. She discussed her own experience working remotely during the pandemic, and her perspective that “working remotely, in my view, works just as well in many ways as being physically in the office. I think that is something that a lot of law offices did not recognize before the pandemic and are now seeing.” Click here to read more.

Attorney Naomi R. Shatz spoke to Law360 about the EEOC’s recent push to convince federal courts that Title VII protects employees from discriminatory transfers and shift changes. Shatz explains, “[I]t’s just really important for employees and employers to understand that there’s so much more to a job and so much more to the terms and conditions of a job under Title VII than just what’s on paper in terms of a salary or job description . . . [E]mployers really can negatively impact employees in discriminatory ways without giving them a pay cut or demotion or something that was more traditionally considered an adverse action under Title VII.” Click here to read more.

Attorney Naomi R. Shatz spoke with Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly regarding a recent federal court decision reaffirming that university employees can bring discrimination claims under both Title VII and Title IX. Click here to read more.

Attorney Monica Shah spoke to GBH News about the constitutionality of terminating an employee for their involvement in violent protests at the Capitol. Shah explains, ‘”I think what employers and public employers may be trying to figure out is, is there a distinction between people who were there and present and those who ran into the Capitol and potentially wanted to overthrow the government?”‘ Click here to read more.
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