PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- A settlement has been reached in a class action Title IX lawsuit filed against Delaware State University (DSU) by members of its women's equestrian team. The parties filed a joint motion today requesting that the United States District Court for Delaware preliminarily approve the terms of the settlement and schedule a fairness hearing for final approval. The settlement is aimed at achieving gender equity in an athletic program that has short-changed female athletes for decades.
"Without the courage and passion of the young women who came forward to assert the rights of all women who attend DSU now and in the future, DSU women would not be getting the opportunities that come from this settlement," said Terry L. Fromson, managing attorney of the Women's Law Project and co-counsel for the plaintiffs. "This settlement achieves what we set out to do -- it assures long term gender equity in sports at DSU," stated Abbe Fletman, a shareholder at the law firm of Flaster/Greenberg PC and co-counsel for plaintiffs.
After DSU announced the elimination of the women's equestrian team in January 2010, 15 team members sued the University for violating Title IX by failing to provide equal athletic opportunities and equal recruitment support for DSU women. The student-athletes filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, which was settled in April 2010 when the Court approved a consent order to extend the equestrian team until the end of the 2010-11 academic year. Settlement of the litigation in its entirety was reached on the eve of a trial scheduled to commence on October 18, 2010.
"The significance of this settlement for women on campus cannot be overstated. We are very thankful that DSU has made a commitment to meet its obligations under Title IX," said Caroline Foltz, a DSU junior and a member of the equestrian team and a plaintiff in the lawsuit. "We are looking forward to continuing to ride for DSU for as long as we can and seeing women get more opportunities to experience being on a team and playing for our school," added Amanda Hotz, a senior at DSU and a member of the equestrian team and a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs, and specifically applies to athletic programs. Title IX requires equity in scholarships, accommodation of athletic interests and abilities, and treatment.
The settlement requires DSU to comply with Title IX's requirements to provide equitable participation opportunities and recruitment support to women's athletics. Under the terms of the settlement, DSU has agreed, among other conditions, to:
- Comply with Title IX participation requirements by providing varsity athletic opportunities for women that are substantially equal to the proportion of full-time female undergraduate students no later than June 30, 2013;
- Maintain the women's equestrian team as a varsity sport with funding, staffing, and other benefits commensurate with its status as a varsity sport;
- Increase the allocation of funding for recruiting participants in women's athletic teams over the next five years
The student-athletes are represented by Abbe Fletman of Flaster/Greenberg PC, Terry Fromson of the Women's Law Project, and Joanne Pinckney of the Wilmington law firm, Pinckney, Harris & Weidinger, LLC.
Flaster/Greenberg, Attorneys at Law has been providing legal services to individuals, entrepreneurs, privately held and family owned businesses and publicly traded corporations throughout the Delaware Valley for nearly four decades. The Women's Law Project (WLP) is a non-profit public interest law firm working to abolish discrimination and injustice and to advance the legal and economic status of women. Pinckney, Harris & Weidinger is a majority woman-owned law firm, representing commercial and corporate clients in need of representation in Delaware.