Litigation: Title IX Victory as Ninth Circuit Finds Sweetwater Union High School District in Violation (2014)

In 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals awarded a class of female athletes a decisive victory in Ollier v. Sweetwater Union High School District, a Title IX case CWLC is proud to have served as co-counsel in, successfully advocating for the rights of girls in this Chula Vista community.

This case was initiated in 2005, when a girls' softball team in the Sweetwater Union High School District asked their school to provide the same resources as the boy's baseball team. Their request was denied, and their coach fired.

When schools fail to provide equal athletic opportunities to their female students, they violate Title IX, the federal law that prohibits gender discrimination in schools. CWLC is an expert in Title IX enforcement, and when this team of young women learned that CWLC had successfully sued another district under similar circumstances, they turned to us for help.

Along with our partners at Legal Aid at Work (formerly Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center) and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, we filed a class action lawsuit in 2007. With student-athlete Veronica Ollier as lead plaintiff, we persisted for seven years. In 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's rulings in their entirely: the school district had violated Title IX by failing to provide the plaintiffs with equal athletic opportunities, equal treatment and benefits including equitable access to facilities, coaching and publicity, and the school district unlawfully retaliated against the female student athletes for filing the lawsuit and asserting their civil rights under Title IX.

This landmark case was the first to prevail under the three-part test of Title IX’s mandate for equity in athletics. Specifically, the mandate requires equal opportunities for girls to play, equal treatment and benefits for female athletes, and no retaliation for raising concerns about Title IX violations.

CWLC remains active and engaged on Title IX issues, and each year we work with school districts, parents, coaches, athletes, and community organizations to ensure girls have access to the same athletic opportunities as boys. You can read the San Diego Union-Tribune's coverage, watch Veronica share her experience as lead plaintiff,  and find the Court opinion and other materials pertaining to this case below.


Resources
FileAction
Ninth Circuit Opinion in Sweetwater vs OllierAccess 
Press Release: San Diego Court Judge Rules in Favor of Female Athletes in Title IX Class Action Case Against Sweetwater Union High School DistrictAccess 
Joint Compliance Plan - Sweetwater Union High School DistrictAccess 
Annual Compliance Report - Sweetwater Union High School DistrictAccess 
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