In November 2018, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) proposed new Title IX regulations concerning sexual harassment, including sexual assault, and received over 100,000 comments during the public comment period. As of today, the regulations have not been finalized. However, four congresspersons recently introduced legislation in the House of Representatives that would prohibit implementation of the proposed Title IX regulations.
The bill, H.R. 5388, introduced by Representative Elissa Slotkin and co-sponsored by Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Jackie Speier, and Annie Kuster, provides that “the Secretary of Education may not issue or enforce certain rules that weaken the enforcement of the prohibition of sex discrimination applicable under Title IX.” Specifically, the bill states that the Secretary of Education may not (1) take any action to implement, enforce, and/or give effect to the proposed regulations, or (2) propose or issue any rule or guidance that is substantially the same as the proposed regulations. Rep. Slotkin’s press release states that the new regulations “could have a chilling effect on students’ willingness to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct and would be a detriment to survivors and to students in general and the academic institutions they attend.”
The bill has been assigned to the Committee on Education and Labor. However, there is no way to know whether the Committee will proceed to review the bill, and if so, when it would be reviewed and/or released. Therefore, it remains to be seen whether the bill will affect the imminent release of the proposed regulations.
While there is no actual date as to when the regulations will be finalized and released, there are indications that it may be in the next few months. In early November of 2019, the DOE sent a finalized version of the proposed regulations to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which reviews all regulations. Further, there are meetings scheduled in the OMB on the regulations throughout February of 2020, indicating that the regulations are in “Final Rule Stage.”
Here at Cohen Seglias, we continue to monitor the progress of the proposed regulations. In the meantime, educational institutions should prepare to review their policies in order to be compliant with the potential new regulations.