Case Background

A Yale employee filed a retaliatory discrimination suit against Yale University, in which she alleged that after Yale hired her in 1999 as a “security education coordinator” to ensure the university’s compliance with Title IX, which is the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education, the university ignored her solutions, responded with indifference, and cut her pay.  Ultimately, Susan Burhans alleged that Yale University made it impossible to do her job, which was to “develop campus safety programs and strategies to ensure Yale’s compliance with Title IX and related laws,” according to the complaint.

Burhans stated that throughout the tenure of her employment, she brought to the attention of school administrators concerns about Yale’s “non-compliance with the Title IX and related laws.”  In April 2011, sixteen students filed a complaint alleging that the university had allowed a hostile sexual environment to persist on campus. According to Burhans’ complaint, “Yale responded to Ms. Burhans’ concerns with indifference, hostility and retaliation in many forms including job termination, initially in March 2010, despite ten years of service with excellent performance evaluations.”

Though Burhans was re-hired as a part-time, contract employee, the complaint alleges that she had no authority to oversee compliance with Title IX in this capacity, and was ultimately terminated, effective November 2012.  The action seeks at least $10 million in damages.

Retaliatory Discrimination Under Title IX

According to the United States Supreme Court, “retaliation against individuals because they complain of sex discrimination is ‘intentional conduct that violates the clear terms of [Title IX].’”[1] To properly allege a retaliatory discrimination case under Title IX, a plaintiff must demonstrate: (1) protected activity by the plaintiff; (2) knowledge by the defendant of the protected activity; (3) adverse school-related action; and (4) a causal connection between the protected activity and the adverse action.[2] Once a plaintiff has established those four elements, the burden shifts to the defendant “to articulate a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its actions.”[3]

In an unofficial response, a university spokesman stated in an email that the lawsuit is “baseless.”[4]

If you are faced with discrimination in the workplace, whether it be gender, sex, religious, or ethnicity based, you should consult with an employment attorney.  The attorneys at Maya Murphy have represented employees in the Fairfield County region and are knowledgeable and experienced in the employment field. Contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq., at 203-221-3100, or at JMaya@mayalaw.com to schedule a consultation today.