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Appellate Judge Issues Ground-Breaking Title IX Decision Against UCLA

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Rebecca Stewart: 513-479-3335


Appellate Judge Issues Ground-Breaking Title IX Decision Against UCLA

WASHINGTON / January 14, 2022 – In a groundbreaking decision, the 9th Circuit Court reversed and remanded a California district court’s decision to dismiss a graduate student’s Title IX claims against the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). The John Doe v. Regents of the University of California decision was issued by Judge Consuelo Callahan on January 11.[1] This was the first time in California that a federal Title IX case brought by an accused student has survived a motion to dismiss.

In 2017, Jane Roe filed a Title IX complaint against John Doe alleging 13 instances of sexual misconduct, including dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Despite the many discrepancies in Roe’s story, UCLA’s Title IX hearing committee ruled in favor of Roe, resulting in the suspension of Doe for two years.[2]

Doe brought suit against UCLA in the Central District of California, alleging the university violated Title IX during a Title IX Investigation and disciplinary proceeding. The District Court of the Central District of California granted UCLA’s motion to dismiss Doe’s Title IX claims, ruling that Doe failed to show that sex-bias was a motivating factor in initiating proceedings against him.[3]

To survive a motion to dismiss a Title IX claim, the court in Schwake v. Arizona Board of Regents,[4] clarified the pleading standard for Title IX claims. Specifically, a plaintiff only must provide “enough facts to state a claim for relief that is plausible on its face,[5]” and “[s]ex discrimination need not be the only plausible explanation or even the most plausible explanation for a Title IX claim to proceed[.]”[6]

Based on the Schwake standard, Judge Callahan concluded that “Doe’s allegations of external pressures [through the Dear Colleague Letter] and an internal pattern and practice of bias [among UCLA Title IX Investigators], along with allegations concerning his particular disciplinary case, give rise to a plausible inference that the University discriminated against Doe on the basis of sex.”[7]

Mark Hathaway, counsel for the plaintiff, noted that this decision was a victory for those fighting against institutional sex bias:

“Today the court acknowledged that biased assumptions against male students and the procedural irregularities in UCLA Title IX campus enforcement, all disfavoring accused male students, show an unacceptable pattern and practice of gender bias at the University of California.  The ruling allows John Doe to renew his effort to hold UCLA accountable for what was done to him and to stop UCLA from harming other students regardless of gender.”

This marks the 45th judicial decision against colleges in which judges found illegal sex discrimination against male students.[8] Many students who have successfully overturned Title IX disciplinary decisions in state court will now be able to seek damages in federal court for the sex discrimination they faced in the campus process.


[1] Doe v. Regents of the University of California, No. 20-55831, at *6 (9th Cir. 2022).

[2] Id. at *8.

[3] Id. at *9.

[4] 967 F.3d 940 (9th Cir. 2020).

[5] Id. at 947.

[6] Id. at 948.

[7] Doe v. Regents of the University of California, at *23.