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Landmark case EL633

Larry Brown Sr.

on 13 April 2013

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FRANKLIN v GWINNETT COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS ET AL. BY: LARRY BROWN Overview Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools (1992) is a seminal case with regard to sexual harassment in schools that receive federal financial assistance. In Franklin, the Supreme Court ruled that students who are subjected to sexual harassment in public schools may sue their boards for monetary damages under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Franklin is important because it was the first case wherein the Supreme Court upheld an award of monetary damages under Title IX. Six years later, the Supreme Court was called upon to delimit the circumstances for such damages to be recovered in Gebser v. Lago Vista Independent School District (1998). CASE FACTS Franklin, a female sophomore in a high school operated by the Gwinnett County Public Schools, alleged that she was subjected to continued sexual harassment and abuse by Hill, a male sports coach and teacher. Among the allegations that Franklin made were that Hill engaged her in sexually explicit conversations, forced kissing, and coercive intercourse on school grounds. Franklin claimed that although teachers and administrators were aware of the harassment, they did nothing to stop it, even discouraging her from bringing charges against Hill.
Franklin thus sued for monetary damages under Title IX. After a federal trial court in Georgia and the Eleventh Circuit rejected Franklin’s claims, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed in her behalf. Courts Ruling The Court made a crucial distinction in judicial power between finding a course of action and in awarding appropriate relief. Because it was established in Cannon v. University of Chicago (1979) that Title IX was enforceable through an implied right of action, the question over the course of action under Title IX had already been resolved.

The issue in Franklin became whether monetary damages were available in a private action brought to enforce Title IX. Title IX TITLE IX: is a statute that provides in pertinent part “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.” Personal Opinion This Supreme Court case ruled that school victims of sexual harassment may collect damages. I can tell that schools have strengthened school sexual harassment policies. This is a landmark case because from now on a refusal of Title IX rights will always lead to the victim being able to collect damages. This means school districts who receive federally funded money must uphold these educational rights Holdings Title IX is enforceable through an implied right of action. Cannon v. University of Chicago, 441 U.S. 677. P. 65 The longstanding general rule is that, absent clear direction to the contrary by Congress, the federal courts have the power to award any appropriate relief in a cognizable cause of action brought pursuant to a federal statute. See, e.g., Bell v. Hood, 327 U.S. 678, 684; Davis v. Passman, 442 U.S. 228, 246-247. Pp. 65-68. Congress did not intend to limit the remedies available in a Title IX suit. The argument that a damages award would unduly expand the federal courts' power into a sphere properly reserved to the Executive and Legislative Branches in violation of separation of powers principles misconceives the difference between a cause of action and a remedy. Also rejected is the contention that the normal presumption in favor of all appropriate remedies should not apply because Title IX was enacted pursuant to Congress' Spending Clause power. The assertion that Title IX remedies should nevertheless be limited to backpay and prospective relief diverges from this Court's traditional approach to deciding what remedies are available for violation of a federal right.
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