WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently announced the resolution of an investigation into whether Troy University in Alabama responded to a student’s requests for pregnancy-related adjustments during the 2020-21 school year in a manner that complied with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX).
OCR’s investigation confirmed that the student notified the university of her pregnancy before the start of the fall 2020 semester and reflected repeated instances in which the student experienced negative consequences stemming from a lack of accommodations for her pregnancy.
For example, when the student became unable to fit into a classroom desk due to her pregnancy, she requested a table for one of her classes, but never received one. She also was penalized in a class for poor attendance and received a failing grade in another class because she was denied the ability to make up work.
OCR’s investigation identified concerns that:
- The university did not make reasonable and responsive adjustments responsive to the student’s pregnancy-related requests.
- Those responses the university did offer to the student’s requests were ad hoc and uncoordinated.
- The Title IX coordinator did not consistently or timely intervene when the student alerted him to issues with certain classes.
- No evidence reflected that the Title IX coordinator responded to a professor who sought guidance in addressing the student’s requests. And,
- The absence of available information about how to obtain pregnancy-related adjustments contributed to the university’s uncoordinated response and left the student to make multiple requests through both the university’s Title IX coordinator and individual professors.
To resolve the investigation, the university’s commitments include the following:
- Providing the student adjustments to grades negatively impacted by the university’s handling of her requests, as well as reimbursement for documented expenses related to courses she has had to retake since the semester when she was pregnant.
- Reviewing and, where necessary, revising or drafting policies and procedures on how to address requests for adjustments from pregnant students to ensure that it complies with Title IX.
- Updating its website to provide information such as the Title IX rights of pregnant students, the process for requesting adjustments, and a link to the grievance procedures that apply to complaints of pregnancy-related or other sex discrimination.
- Faculty and staff training regarding the Title IX rights of pregnant students and the university’s obligations regarding pregnant students, as well as a survey to gauge the effectiveness of the training. And,
- Tracking of students’ requests for pregnancy-related adjustments and the university’s responses to the requests.
“I thank Troy University for addressing the pregnancy-related needs of the student who came to OCR for help and for ensuring that, going forward, it will provide pregnant students equal access to the university’s courses and other offerings,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon.