On John Cusack, Pink Floyd, Title IX, and medical residencies.

John Cusack Headshot

Serendipity may be one of the worst movies of all time. Of this, I am sure.

Then again, I can’t stand John Cusack movies, especially that pretentious piece of one-know-what, High Fidelity. But, I’m not writing today to bash John Cusack. And, I’m not made of stone. Hot Tub Time Machine was pretty freaking good.

Rather, I found it serendipitous that I never really talk about  Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination based on sex in any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. Then, you get Tuesday’s post about the similarities between Title IX and Title VII.

And, I’m gonna give you another Title VII / Title IX post today.

[cue music]

The inspiration for today’s post comes from Tuesday’s Third Circuit decision in Doe v. Mercy Catholic Medical Center. Doe, an ex-resident, asserted claims of sex discrimination under Title IX. The lower court dismissed her claims, concluding that Doe was really masquerading Title VII claims as Title IX claims. And since, she failed to exhaust her administrative remedies under Title VII by going first to the EEOC, hasta la vista, baby.

The Third Circuit, describing the matter before it as a case of first impression, viewed it as one that “touches on the Executive’s very power to address gender discrimination in residency programs under existing federal law.”

So, if you run a health system, pay attention, yo.

Title IX covers educational programs or activities. But, what the heck is an educational program or activity? Well, the Third Circuit concluded that the Supreme Court intended the language to be read broadly — but not to the point where “creative minds could conceivably read the word ‘education’ in Title IX to ‘encompass every experience of life.'”

Therefore, the Court offered some examples that would fall within the scope of Title IX:

  • a program that is incrementally structured through a particular course of study or training, whether full- or part-time;
  • a program allows participants to earn a degree or diploma, qualify for a certification or certification examination, or pursue a specific occupation or trade beyond mere on-the-job training;
  • a program provides instructors, examinations, an evaluation process or grades, or accepts tuition; or
  • the entities offering, accrediting, or otherwise regulating a program hold it out as educational in nature

If you run a business that operates a program that checks one or more of these boxes, then check yourself before you wreck yourself. Or, maybe, your program is affiliated with a college or university program covered under Title IX, then you may have some Title IX implications yourself.

Either way consider some training and education — not just the standard medical curriculum, but some anti-harassment training too, so that the program participants have a meaningful way to complain about harassment, should they experience or witness it.

Updated: