BERWYN, Pa., May 17, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- On March 7th, 2017, a U.S. Court of Appeals issued a decision that may impact your Title IX obligations. What Title IX obligations, you might ask? After all, you're a hospital, not a school. In Doe v. Mercy Catholic Medical Center, the Third Circuit issued a landmark ruling applying Title IX to hospitals that receive federal funds and conduct residency programs. This groundbreaking holding laid out an expansive definition for what qualifies as an "education program" that "receives Federal financial assistance" under Title IX, including medical residency programs. This holding may have profound implications not just for compliance, but also for your hospital's exposure to liability in court under Title IX. After noting that Congress specified "education programs or activities" and not "educational institutions" in the Title IX statute, the Third Circuit provided a new framework for assessing whether hospitals and medical programs are subject to Title IX liability, a framework that is likely to be followed in other courts. As the industry leader in Title IX compliance, ATIXA offers you some very practical advice for how to address and comply with Title IX in a healthcare setting.
Why Should You Care About Doe v. Mercy?
In Doe v. Mercy, a former resident of Mercy Catholic Medical Center (MCMC) filed a lawsuit against MCMC alleging that she was sexually harassed by the director of the program. She also claimed that she suffered retaliation for filing a grievance about the director's behavior, including that she submit to a psychiatric corrective plan in order to resume the program, followed by her termination. MCMC is a private teaching hospital that operates a residency program. The District Court held that Title IX did not apply, finding that MCMC was not an "education program or activity," and that Title IX cannot be used to "circumvent" Title VII's administrative requirements, as "Congress intended Title VII to serve as the 'exclusive avenue for relief' for employment discrimination." Moreover, the District Court noted that residents "already have a degree, don't pay tuition, and are paid for their services and protected by labor laws." The plaintiff appealed to the Third Circuit, which noted that Congress left "education" undefined in the statute, that case law is "scant on the issue," and that the Supreme Court has never addressed this question. The Third Circuit then broke new legal ground and provided an in-depth analysis of the applicability of Title IX to MCMC, which has far-reaching implications for Title IX liability.
The Third Circuit has said that Mercy and all similar programs are, indeed, responsible for compliance with Title IX, as medical residents are entitled to the law's protections.
Most hospitals don't have Title IX programs or the infrastructure to support them. An HR program that complies with Title VII isn't enough. ATIXA strongly recommends that you begin building your Title IX compliance program now, and ATIXA is here to help.
To review the collected regulatory guidance you should be aware of, please click this link or visit the Resources tab on the ATIXA site, and select "hospitals" from the dropdown menu at www.atixa.org.
Membership information can be found at www.atixa.org/join.
If you are interested in comprehensive compliance checklists, or to learn more about comprehensive consulting or training packages, please contact:
Executive Vice President for Client Relations
ATIXA and The NCHERM Group, LLC
Founded in 2011, ATIXA is the nation's only membership association dedicated solely to compliance with Title IX and the support of more than 3,000 administrator members who hold Title IX responsibilities in schools and colleges. ATIXA is the leading provider of Title IX training and certification, having certified more than 3,000 Title IX coordinators and more than 8,000 Title IX investigators since 2011. For more information, visit www.atixa.org.
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SOURCE Association of Title IX Administrators (ATIXA)