Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cohen v. Brown University case brief

Cohen v. Brown University case brief summary
101 F.3d 155 (1996)

Defendant university appealed an order from the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island, which rendered judgment for plaintiff women students in the class action filed under Title IX of the Education Code, 20 U.S.C.S. §§ 1681-1688, based on the district court's determination that the university's interscholastic athletics program unlawfully discriminated against women.

After defendant university demoted two women's athletic teams from university-sponsored to donor-sponsored, plaintiff women students instituted a class action claiming discrimination under Title IX of the Education Code (Title IX), 20 U.S.C.S. §§ 1681-1688. The district court issued a preliminary injunction. The court affirmed the injunction and remanded for the trial on the merits. The district court found that the university's interscholastic athletics program discriminated against women and issued a remedial order.


  • On appeal, the court affirmed the judgment on the merits, applying the three-prong test of the Policy Interpretation, 44 Fed. Reg. 71,413-71,423 (1979), and held that participation opportunities were not provided in substantial proportion to enrollment, that the university did not show either a practice of program expansion or full and effective accommodation of the interests and abilities of its women students. 
  • The court reversed the remedial order, holding that the district court erred in rejecting the university's compliance plan, which reflected a statutorily available option. 
  • The court remanded the case for the university to submit another compliance plan.


The court affirmed judgment for plaintiff women students, because defendant university's athletics program discriminated against women. The court reversed the district court's remedial order, because the university's proposed compliance plan reflected a statutorily available option, and remanded for the university to have an opportunity to submit another compliance plan.

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