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Lawsuit’s Dismissal Has Major Title IX Implications for Hospitals

A federal judge’s ruling was based on the rejection of a Title IX claim made by someone outside of an educational institution.

A federal judge dismissed the Title IX-related lawsuit brought against a Philadelphia medical center by a former employee Feb. 1.

The case set an important precedent for Title IX claims at institutions outside of colleges where educational skills are learned.

A plaintiff known as Jane Doe sued Mercy Catholic Medical Center on April 20, 2015, alleging discrimination, harassment and breach of contractual claims under Title IX, according to pennrecord.com.

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The plaintiff, who was part of a residency program at the hospital for two years, claimed she was subjected to inappropriate comments, glances and physical contact from a doctor who retaliated against her by giving her poor recommendations after she rejected his advances.

In federal court, the plaintiff’s lawyers argued that Title IX applied to her case because educational skills were learned through the hospital program she was in. But Judge Michael M. Baylson disagreed with that assertion.

“If in using the term ‘education’ Congress intended any experience conveying skills or knowledge, Title IX would govern any interaction in which one party could potentially learn something,” Baylson said.

Baylson said Title VII would have been more applicable for the plaintiff’s case. “Absent explicit Congressional authorization for Title IX plaintiffs to be exempted from the Title VII’s carefully crafted administrative scheme, the Court concludes that Title VII should be the exclusive avenue for relief (particularly when, as here, the employer is not an educational institution),” Baylson said.

Judge Baylson also concluded that the court had no standing with the plaintiff’s claims of contract-based gender discrimination, wrongful termination or breach of contract because those would be violations of state law and the case, due to its focus on Title IX, was dealing with federal matters.

About the Author

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Zach Winn is a journalist living in the Boston area. He was previously a reporter for Wicked Local and graduated from Keene State College in 2014, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minoring in political science.

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