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Parties Subject to Liability

Title IX conditions the offer of federal funding on each funding recipient’s promise not to discriminate on the basis of sex, in what amounts to a contract between the government and the funding recipient. Elementary schools, junior high schools, high schools, and both undergraduate and graduate colleges and universities must comply with Title IX if they receive federal funding and wish to continue receiving it. However, federally funded recipients may be exempted from liability under Title IX if they have had a continuous policy and tradition of admitting students of only one gender. 20 U.S.C.A. ยง 1681(a)(5). Federally funded recipients are also exempt from Title IX suits that arise from employment discrimination claims over jobs in which sex is a bona fide occupational qualification, as might be the case for persons hired to clean or monitor locker rooms and toilet facilities.

As noted above, athletic departments and athletic programs infrequently receive federal funding directly from the federal government. The same holds true for directors, coaches, trainers, and other individuals employed by school athletic programs. Instead, school boards, school districts, colleges, and universities are the most common recipients of federal funding, and thus they are also the most common targets of Title IX litigation. Since Title IX has been interpreted as abrogating the states’ Eleventh Amendment immunity in this area of law, state governments themselves may also be sued in federal court for discrimination that occurs at one of their federally-funded, state-sponsored academic institutions.

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