A panel of 9th Circuit Court of Appeals judges reinstated a Title IX lawsuit yesterday against the University of California, Davis. The suit was originally filed in 2003 by three female wrestlers after they were forced to compete against men in the same weight class starting after the 2000-2001 academic year.
The case was originally thrown out on legal grounds by US District Judge Frank Damrell Jr., who found that athletes are not entitled to financial damages if the university is not given notice of the athlete's intent to sue or opportunity to remedy potential Title IX violations, according to the Sacramento Bee.
In the appeals court opinion, the judges found that Davis did not need notice of its own decisions regarding changes to women's wrestling and should have been regularly assessing its own Title IX compliance and reporting to the US Department of Education. The judges ruled that Davis' actions and policies in women's athletics requires jury review. They wrote that since the incident with women's wrestling, "the number of women playing intercollegiate athletics [at Davis] dropped sharply...Meanwhile, in the 10 years since UCD last added a significant number of female varsity slots, the number of female students at UCD grew by 35 percent." Spokespeople for Davis assert that the school is in compliance with Title IX.
Noreen Farrell, a lawyer representing the athletes, told Capital Public Radio that "what happened was the university required them to have wrestle-offs, so compete against young men in their weight-class in order to have a slot on the team. And so in the course of trying to compete against men for slots on the team of course they were eliminated. They couldn't compete against men." According to Court House News, the women athletes then lost their scholarships, academic credits, and varsity benefits.
Former Davis wrestling coach Michael Burch was awarded a $725,000 settlement in 2007 after he alleged that Davis failed to renew his contract in retaliation for speaking out when the women's wrestling team was cut. A 2005 US Supreme Court ruling in Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education found that those who are the victims of retaliation for drawing attention to Title IX violations can sue under Title IX.
Title IX is the landmark federal legislation that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs, including athletics.
Media Resources: Feminist Daily News 1/24/07; Court House News 2/8/10; Capital Public Radio 2/8/10; Sacramento Bee 2/9/10
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .