Sport Law Discussion Questions
- Sexual Harassment in Athletics Programs
Hostile environment sexual harassment claims involving allegations of inappropriate relationships between athletics personnel and student-athletes continue to plague schools and fracture communities across the country. A closely related issue is the failure by school officials in many instances of alleged sexual harassment of student-athletes who are minors to follow the requirements of state child abuse reporting laws regarding mandatory reports to law enforcement or child protective services agencies.
Effectively combatting the problem requires in-depth knowledge by school and athletics administrators of the elements of a hostile environment sexual harassment claim, along with the development and implementation of a strong and effective anti-sexual harassment policy that is communicated to all athletics personnel, student-athletes and parents. Also important to minimizing vicarious liability for sexual harassment is the process of in-servicing all athletics personnel regarding both sexual harassment and the specific requirements of the state’s child abuse reporting statute.
Over the last decade, in sexual harassment civil suits, based on U.S. Supreme Court precedents, courts have tended to find school and athletics personnel vicariously liable in those instances where the official had knowledge that the harassment was occurring and exhibited deliberate indifference to correcting the situation.