(Washington, D.C.) Today, The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) filed an administrative appeal with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights against Loyola University Chicago on behalf of Cortney Marks, a recent graduate from the Master of Social Work program who faced retaliation for reporting pregnancy discrimination.
The appeal is in response to OCR’s cursory initial investigation and establishes Loyola’s retaliation against Cortney Marks, after she complained about the school’s failure to make accommodations for her pregnancy as required by Title IX—the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. While the school addressed the pregnancy discrimination complaint, it did not address the retaliation that Cortney suffered after coming forward. Administrators in the Master of Social Work program verbally intimidated Cortney, refused to allow her to participate in class, and sabotaged an internship and an independent study, which she needed to graduate, among other things.
“My last year in graduate school was devastating,” said Cortney. “I was being pushed out of the program that I had worked so hard on. I don’t want other women to have to go through what I did and that’s why I filed this complaint. I hope it encourages other women who are pregnant or parents to stand up and hold their schools accountable for protecting them by following the law.”
“Students should be applauded for standing up for their civil rights when they report discrimination, not punished,” said Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). “Schools have a legal responsibility not only to address discrimination when it occurs but also to deal with the retaliation that often happens after a student makes a formal complaint. Retaliation is illegal under Title IX, but that is cold comfort unless schools actively protect students—and here the school utterly failed to do so.”
The National Women’s Law Center is a non-profit organization that has been working since 1972 to advance and protect women’s equality and opportunity. The Center focuses on major policy areas of importance to women and their families including economic security, education, employment and health, with special attention given to the concerns of low-income women. For more information on the Center, visit: www.nwlc.org.