Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education, 544 U.S. 167 (2005)

In June 2004 the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in this case. The issue before the Court is whether Title IX of the Education Amendments, which prohibits discrimination in federally assisted education programs and activities, provides for a retaliation cause of action. The petition was filed by Roderick Jackson, a high school basketball coach who was allegedly removed from this position in retaliation for complaining about his all-girl team being denied equal funding and access to sports facilities and equipment. The AAUP joined a variety of coach associations in signing onto an amicus brief written by the National Education Association. The amici argue in the brief that the enforcement of Title IX would be seriously compromised if educators, who play an essential role in enforcing Title IX, could be subjected to retaliation without redress when they seek to correct violations of the law. The amici also contend that Congress' intent that Title IX "provide individual citizens effective protection" would be undermined if educators were not protected from retaliation for raising Title IX concerns. Read the amicus brief (pdf).

Status: On March 29, 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that Title IX provides for a retaliation cause of action. The Court reasoned that "if Title IX's private right of action does not encompass retaliation claims, the teacher would have no recourse if he were subsequently fired for speaking out. Without protection from retaliation, individuals who witness discrimination would likely not report it, indifference claims would be short-circuited, and the underlying discrimination would go unremedied." The Court emphasized that "teachers and coaches such as Jackson are often in the best position to vindicate the rights of their students because they are better able to identify discrimination and bring it to the attention of administrators." The Court remanded the case for further fact finding consistent with its reasoning. The decision is available at http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/02-1672.ZS.html.

Update: On November 28, 2006, Jackson and the Birmingham Board of Education settled the lawsuit, which was scheduled to go to trial in December.  According to the terms of the settlement, the Board must: appoint Title IX coordinators for the Birmingham school system and for each school within the system; adopt Title IX policies and grievance procedures; conduct training to ensure Title IX compliance; and conduct a review of compliance with the Title IX athletics regulations in all schools and programs in the Birmingham school system and prepare public reports of the findings.  In addition, Jackson received $50,000 from the Board.

Amicus Brief Topics: