The Lawletter Vol 39 No 8
It is not uncommon for more than one federal statute to address the same matter. In such a situation, the courts are called upon to determine whether one provision preempts another or whether the remedies provided are intended to be cumulative, additional, or alternative. The overlap between Title VII and Title IX presents just such a situation.
Title VII generally addresses unlawful discrimination on the basis of a number of characteristics, including sex, in employment. Title IX specifically addresses unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded educational institutions. In a recent case, a Florida district court addressed the question of whether Title VII preempts claims brought under Title IX when the claim is based on discrimination in employment. Torres v. Manatee County Sch. Dist., No. 8:14-cv-1021-T-33TBM, 2014 WL 4185364 (M.D. Fla. Aug. 22, 2014).
The court first noted that there is a split among the courts on the issue, some finding preemption and others, not. After reviewing the cases on both sides of the issue, the court sided with those finding preemption. The court found the reasoning of the Fifth Circuit—that in crafting Title IX, Congress had not intended to offer a "bypass" of the administrative process required under Title VII—particularly compelling because allowing an implied right of action under Title IX for employment discrimination would disrupt the carefully balanced administrative scheme under Title VII for redressing employment discrimination.
The court noted that neither the Eleventh Circuit nor the Supreme Court has yet addressed the issue, and it went on to conclude that Title VII does preempt Title IX claims of employment discrimination. Were it otherwise, the court reasoned, Title VII's technical and administrative requirements would be eviscerated, giving those who work at federally funded institutions an unfettered right to bring discrimination claims without having to adhere to the rules required of those in every other kind of employment throughout the country. It saw no reason why Congress would have so intended.