RESPONDENT: Birmingham Board of Education
LOCATION: Texas State Capitol
DOCKET NO.: 02-1672
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
CITATION: 544 US 167 (2005)
GRANTED: Jun 14, 2004
ARGUED: Nov 30, 2004
DECIDED: Mar 29, 2005
Irving L. Gornstein - argued the cause for Petitioner, on behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae
Kevin C. Newsom - for the State of Alabama et al. as amici curiae urging affirmance
Kenneth L. Thomas - argued the cause for Respondent
Walter E. Dellinger, III - argued the cause for Petitioner
Facts of the case
Roderick Jackson, a high school basketball coach, claimed he was fired for complaining that the girls' basketball team he coached was denied equal treatment by the school. Jackson sued the Birmingham Board of Education in federal court, claiming his firing violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX bans sex discrimination in federally-funded schools. Jackson claimed Title IX gave him the right to sue - a "private right of action" - because he suffered for reporting sex discrimination against others, despite the fact the he did not suffer from sex discrimination. The federal district court and appellate court ruled against Jackson.
Does Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 allow suits for retaliation for complaints about unlawful sex discrimination?
Media for Jackson v. Birmingham Board of EducationAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 30, 2004 in Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 29, 2005 in Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education
William H. Rehnquist:
The opinion of the Court in No. 02-1672, Jackson versus Birmingham Board of Education will be announced by Justice O'Connor.
Sandra Day O'Connor:
This case comes to us on writ of certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
The petitioner, Roderick Jackson, is a teacher in the Birmingham Alabama Public Schools.
He sued the Birmingham Board of Education alleging that the Board had violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by retaliating against him because he had complained about sex discrimination in the high school's athletic program.
Because this case was decided on a motion to dismiss, we accept the allegations of Jackson's complaint as true.
According to the complaint, Jackson had been an employee of the Birmingham school district for over 10 years.
In 1993, he was hired to serve as a physical education teacher and the girls' basketball coach.
While Jackson was at Ensley High School, he discovered that the girls' team was not receiving equal funding and equal access to athletic equipment and facilities.
He began complaining to his supervisors about the unequal treatment of the girls' team, but his complaints went unanswered.
The school failed to remedy the situation.
Instead, he began to receive negative work evaluations and ultimately was removed as the girls' coach in May 2001.
After his coaching duties were terminated, Jackson filed the instant lawsuit in Federal District Court.
He alleged, among other things, that the Board violated Title IX by retaliating against him for protesting the discrimination against the girls' team.
The District Court dismissed the complaint on grounds that Title IX's private cause of action does not include claims of retaliation.
The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit agreed.
In an opinion filed with the Clerk of the Court today, we reverse the Eleventh Circuit's judgment.
Title IX provides that no person in the United States shall on the basis of sex be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
More than 25 years ago, in Cannon versus University of Chicago, we held that Title IX includes an implied private right of action to enforce its prohibition on intentional sex discrimination.
We hold today that Title IX's private cause of action encompasses claims of retaliation in response to a complaint about sex discrimination.
Retaliating against a person because that person has complained of sex discrimination is a form of intentional sex discrimination.
It is a type of discrimination because the complainant is being subjected to differential treatment.
It is on the basis of sex because it is an intentional response to the nature of the complaint to that an alligation of sex discrimination.
We do not decide today whether Jackson should prevail on the merits.
We hold only that his complaint should not have been dismissed and he is entitled to offer evidence to support his claim.
Justice Thomas has filed a dissenting opinion which is joined by the Chief Justice and Justices Scalia and Kennedy.