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Professor Gets to Go Forward on Title IX Retaliation Case

Dale Wilkerson was a non-tenured professor at the University of North Texas. He was a lecturer in the Department of Religion and Philosophy.

Mr. Wilkerson met a 26-year-old female at a graduate student recruitment weekend held at a faculty member’s home. Subsequently, the woman approached him at bar. A couple of days later, he brought her to his home where some sort of disputed sexual activity took place. A month later, Mr. Wilkerson learned that this woman would be enrolled in his program at the University. She had not taken any courses with him. She filed a complaint alleging sexual harassment against him based on the sexual activity that took place at her home. The University’s Office of Equal Opportunity investigated the complaint. Mr. Wilkerson was found not to have violated the faculty consensual relationship policy because he had no authority over the woman at the time and there was not enough evidence to show that he had violated the school’s sexual harassment policy. Notwithstanding its findings, the school did not renew Mr. Wilkerson’s contract.

Mr. Wilkerson has filed suit, arguing that he was fired in retaliation for participating in a Title IX sexual harassment investigation. Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in education and protects individuals who have participated in investigations from retaliation. The federal district court held that Title IX does indeed protect the subject of a Title IX investigation from retaliation. Its reasoning: “[a]nything else would place too great a weight on false accusations by stripping the subject of the investigation of all protections from the very institution that is supposed to be an impartial tribunal.” His suit will proceed.