Anyone who believes there has been an act of discrimination on the basis of sex against any person or group in a program or activity which receives Education Department (ED) financial assistance, may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) under Title IX. The person or organization filing the complaint need not be a victim of the alleged discrimination but may complain on behalf of another person or group. A complaint should be sent to the OCR enforcement office that serves the state in which the alleged discrimination occurred. A complaint must be filed within 180 days of the date of the alleged discrimination, unless the time for filing is extended for good cause by the Enforcement Office Director. If you have also filed a complaint under an institutional grievance process, see the time limit discussed at the end of this section.
Complaint letters should explain who was discriminated against; in what way; by whom or by what institution or agency; when the discrimination took place; who was harmed; who can be contacted for further information; the name, address and telephone number of the complainant(s) and the alleged offending institution or agency; and as much background information as possible about the alleged discriminatory act(s). OCR enforcement offices may be contacted for assistance in preparing complaints. OCR keeps the identity of complainants confidential except to the extent necessary to carry out the purposes of the civil rights laws, or unless disclosure is required under the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act or otherwise required by law.
If an investigation indicates there has been a violation of Title IX, OCR attempts to obtain voluntary compliance and negotiate remedies. Only when it cannot obtain voluntary compliance does OCR initiate enforcement action. Enforcement usually consists of referring a case to the Department of Justice for court action, or initiating proceedings, before an administrative law judge, to terminate Federal funding to the recipient's program or activity in which the prohibited discrimination occurred. Terminations are made only after the recipient has had an opportunity for a hearing before an administrative law judge, and after all other appeals have been exhausted.
Prior to filing a complaint with OCR against an institution, a potential complainant may want to find out about the institution's grievance process and use that process to have the complaint resolved. A complainant is not required by law to use the institutional grievance procedure before filing a complaint with OCR. If a complainant uses an institutional grievance process and also chooses to file the complaint with OCR, the complaint must be filed with OCR within 60 days after the last act of the institutional grievance process.
Each enforcement office is responsible for enforcing Title IX in the states and territories designated for that office.
If you wish additional information about Title IX, or a copy of the regulations which detail the requirements of Title IX, write or phone the OCR enforcement office which serves your state or territory, or you may call 1-800-421-3481.
If you wish to file a complaint alleging sex discrimination by a recipient institution in your state or territory, write to the appropriate OCR enforcement office, or call, and follow the instructions stated in the preceding section.