Overcoming a Hostile Work Environment: Recognizing School District Liability for Student-on-Teacher Sexual Harassment under Title VII and Title IX
This Note urges all school districts to take proactive measures to end sexual harassment of teachers by students. Additionally, it urges state legislatures to pass legislation mandating school adoption of anti-harassment policies that include provisions prohibiting all forms of student-on-teacher harassment, including sexual harassment. Following this introduction, Part II of this Note provides a background on the current climate in the public schools in the United States, identifies the statutory protections available to victims of sexual harassment, and discusses the definitions of sexual harassment used by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and the courts. Part III examines relevant sexual harassment decisions in the school environment, as well as analogous sexual harassment decisions in the employment context. Part IV explores the court's analysis in Plaza-Torres v. Rey and considers the policy rationales for imposing liability on schools that refuse to intervene in incidents of student-on-teacher harassment. Part V of this Note recommends that school districts revise their existing anti-harassment policies and develop proactive training programs directed at teachers, students, parents, and the entire school community to prohibit student-on-teacher harassment effectively, increase awareness of the problem, and emphasize a commitment to strict disciplinary action for offenders. Finally, Part VI concludes that elimination of student-on-teacher sexual harassment will require proactive school administrations that are interested in both taking the requisite steps to protect teachers from student harassment and voiding costly legal liability that could result from their inaction.
Note, Overcoming a Hostile Work Environment: Recognizing School District Liability for Student-on-Teacher Sexual Harassment under Title VII and Title IX. 55 Clev. St. L. Rev. 577 (2007)