Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, most colleges and universities are required to have a Title IX process through which claims of sexual misconduct and discrimination on the basis of sex can be filed and investigated. When a student, faculty member, or staff member files a Title IX complaint with a college or university, the Title IX coordinator for that college or university will oversee the complaint and the investigation process that follows. The complaint process involves the person making the complaint, or the complainant, and the person against whom the Title IX violation is being alleged, or the respondent. Once a complaint has been filed, the respondent will be informed of the complaint. At that point in time, the respondent may file a cross-complaint, which is a separate complaint with new allegations against the complainant.
How Title IX Cross-Complaints Work
When a student, faculty member, or staff member goes through the college or university Title IX process and files a complaint with the Title IX office, the procedure for the investigation and hearing will depend upon the specific protocols established by the institution. Educational institutions must comply with Title IX by hiring a Title IX coordinator, responding to allegations and investigating complaints, and providing complainants with certain accommodations. Otherwise, however, the precise processes will be established by the institution. Accordingly, whether and how a cross-complaint may be filed will depend upon the particular procedures outlined by the college or university Title IX process.
When a respondent does file a cross-complaint, most colleges and universities will treat the cross-complaint or cross filing similarly to an original complaint. As such, the Title IX office or coordinator will consider the cross-complaint to determine whether or not it is legitimate, and then an investigation process will begin. Since educational institutions are required to respond to Title IX complaints and allegations, they also must do so for cross-complaints that are filed. Once a cross-complaint has been filed, the original complainant (against whom the cross-complaint has now been filed) will typically have an option to respond. Depending upon the procedures outlined by the specific college or university, the original complainant may need to respond within a certain amount of time.
Cross Filings as Retaliation
In many Title IX cases, the respondent may file a Title IX cross-complaint in order to retaliate against the complainant, or with the aim of delaying the original Title IX case or harassing the complainant. Many colleges and universities have policies in place concerning Title IX retaliation, including any attempts to harass, shame, intimidate, or otherwise persecute a complainant who has filed a Title IX complaint. Such behavior may result in a code of conduct violation, or a violation of the college or university employment handbook or faculty policy manual.
Violations of a student code of conduct or employee policy document can result in serious repercussions that may include suspension or expulsion from the university for a student, or termination for an employee. If you have any questions about Title IX cross filings or need assistance, you should seek advice from an experienced national Title IX lawyer.