On January 26, 2023, OCR issued a letter and agreement to Troy University in Alabama regarding a Title IX complaint about pregnancy discrimination.
The complainant, a pregnant student, sought accommodations and assistance from the Title IX Coordinator and faculty. The complainant requested assistance for a number of adjustments, including extensions on assignments and excused absences.
OCR did not issue formal findings of violations because the parties entered into a resolution agreement to resolve the complaint prior to the completion of the investigation. The agreement requires updates to policies, websites, and training; a survey to assess the effectiveness of the training; and a tracking system for pregnancy-related adjustment requests. This agreement is the second we have seen recently with this survey requirement, where the survey is meant to assess the effectiveness of an OCR-required training. Read more about the earlier agreement with such a requirement here.
So what are the takeaways from this investigation? Examine your institution’s policies and practices about pregnant students, whether they are written or not, and ask:
- Do we make reasonable responsive adjustments in response to pregnant students’ requests?
- Does the student handbook and/or website include information about available support during pregnancy, including academic and other adjustments?
- Is a particular person or title assigned to promptly and appropriate respond to pregnant students’ requests, either the Title IX Coordinator or their designee?
- How do we engage in an interactive process with pregnant students to attempt to determine what adjustments are needed and appropriate?
- Is the support for pregnant students centrally coordinated for efficiency, equity, and better record keeping, rather than relying on individual faculty for ad hoc accommodations? Compare this to the accommodations process for students with disabilities who seek accommodations.
- Do faculty and staff receive training or information about the institution’s obligations under Title IX regarding pregnant students who request adjustments?
Grand River Solutions Title IX and Equity experts can assist as you consider your responses to these questions and find areas in need of development.
OCR’s letter is here and the resolution agreement is here.
Read about a previous OCR pregnancy discrimination resolution from June 2022 here.
Read about what the current Title IX regulations and the proposed rules say about pregnancy here.