Legal Aid Society - Employment Law Center
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Putting Justice to Work

“I am so happy to have played a role in ensuring that other young women will have a fair opportunity to participate in athletic programs at their schools and experience the same growing sense of pride, self-respect and confidence that I did from playing competitive sports.”
- Veronica Ollier

Victory for Girls in Sports!

Ninth Circuit finds Sweetwater Union High School District in Violation of Title IX

We are thrilled to report that our clients, female high school athletes, obtained a major victory in a Title IX class action from the Ninth Circuit last Friday.

We, along with co-counsel The California Women's Law Center and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, filed a class action in 2007 on behalf of female athletes.  A number of the named plaintiffs played for Castle Park High School’s softball team. With courage and determination, our clients’ goal was to enforce the law and ensure that they had athletic facilities and opportunities equal to those afforded to boys.  

In 2009, U.S. District Judge M. James Lorenz granted summary judgment to our clients on their claim that the school did not provide equal sports opportunities for girls.  And, after a 10-day trial, Judge Lorenz found that the School District also violated Title IX by failing to ensure that female athletes at Castle Park High School had equal athletic facilities, coaching and publicity, and other benefits.

Importantly, the Court recognized the broad sweep of Title IX’s anti-retaliation provision and concluded that the School District violated Title IX by retaliating against the girls when it fired their beloved softball coach. 

The Court in a matter of first impression issued a sweeping and comprehensive decision on Title IX in favor of our clients. As a result, the Court strengthened Title IX and underscored its importance. The decision gives female athletes around the country a potent tool to advocate for equality in their school sports programs. 

In addition, the Court underscored the significance of the Act’s anti-retaliation provision - recognizing that, as in most civil rights laws, it is a critical part of Title IX’s enforcement scheme.    

We expect that this appellate ruling will positively impact opportunities for female high school athletes across the country.  And we believe that, as more girls play sports in an environment that is compliant with Title IX, skills that they will gain - including teamwork, leadership and discipline - will have a direct bearing on their success in higher education and employment. 

We have a number of other pending Title IX high school athletics matters throughout California and this decision will advance the rights of those female athletes as well.

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