U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Announces Resolution of Sex-Based Harassment Investigation of Taft College in California

U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Announces Resolution of Sex-Based Harassment Investigation of Taft College in California

October 19, 2023

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today announced that Taft College in California has entered into a resolution agreement to ensure the college’s compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 when responding to allegations of harassment based on sex, including sex stereotyping.

OCR found that the college failed to respond as required by Title IX to repeated allegations from one of its students, who is transgender, that college employees harassed the student based on sex for more than a year.

The investigation included allegations that a professor told the student, in front of her whole class, that based on her “physical appearance” the professor did not consider the student “feminine enough” and that on another occasion an administrator of the student’s college program knowingly excluded the student when addressing other female students as “ladies” in class.

OCR’s investigation also reflected that the college received repeated notice that the student alleged experiencing almost daily harassment including through faculty misgendering the student, but the college did not respond to these allegations to confirm their occurrence or redress the harm the student reported experiencing.

As a result, OCR determined that the college subjected the student to a hostile environment based on sex that negatively impacted the student’s education.

OCR also identified a compliance concern that the college may not have provided adequate notice to students, staff, and faculty about how to make a complaint of sex-based harassment under Title IX and may have failed to adequately notify the college community of its Title IX coordinator and how to contact this person.

The resolution agreement reached today commits the college to take the steps needed to ensure nondiscrimination on the basis of sex in all of its education programs and activities.

“Today’s resolution with Taft College addresses harassment experienced by a transgender student based on unlawful sex stereotyping,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon. “Taft College has committed to comply with Title IX to protect all its students in the future."

The college’s commitments in the resolution agreement include:

  • Offering to reimburse the student for counseling to address the effects of the sex-based harassment during the student’s enrollment.
  • Reviewing and revising, as necessary, its policies and procedures to clarify that harassment based on sex includes harassment based on sex stereotyping.
  • Training its employees who respond to sex-based harassment about the college’s obligations under Title IX. And,
  • Providing documentation to OCR demonstrating that the college’s responses to complaints of sex-based harassment during the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 academic years complied with Title IX.

The letter to Taft College and the resolution agreement are available on the Office for Civil Rights website.