U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Announces Resolution of Pregnancy Discrimination Investigation of Salt Lake Community College

Today, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced the resolution of a student’s complaint of pregnancy discrimination against Salt Lake Community College, in Utah.

OCR determined that the college violated both Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) after investigating allegations that Salt Lake Community College encouraged a pregnant student to drop a course because she was pregnant, did not engage in an interactive process to provide her with academic adjustments or necessary services during her pregnancy, and did not excuse her pregnancy-related absences or allow her later to submit work following those absences.

OCR found that the college violated Title IX and its implementing regulations by failing: (1) to respond promptly and equitably to the student’s complaint of pregnancy discrimination, (2) to engage in an interactive process with the student to determine the appropriate special services and/or academic adjustments to provide in light of her pregnancy, and (3) to excuse her absences related to pregnancy, provide her the opportunity to make up work missed due to these pregnancy-related absences, or provide her with alternatives to making up missed work at a later date.
In addition, OCR found that the college violated Section 504 and its implementing regulations by failing to engage in an interactive process with the student and to consider whether her pregnancy caused a temporary disability requiring academic adjustments.

“We look forward to working with Salt Lake Community College to promote a nondiscriminatory educational environment by ensuring pregnant students’ equal access to the college’s offerings,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon. “As we approach the 50th anniversary of Title IX next week, Salt Lake Community College’s commitments today take an important step to provide the equal access to education Congress has promised these 50 years.

The resolution agreement will ensure the college’s compliance with Title IX, Section 504, and their implementing regulations as they apply to requests for academic adjustments based on pregnancy, pregnancy-related absences, and complaints of pregnancy discrimination.

The college’s commitments in the voluntary resolution agreement include:

Revising its non-discrimination notice and grievance procedures to comply with Title IX.
Publishing information on its website for pregnant students about their Title IX rights and how to seek academic adjustments, special services, or excused absences.
Training its Title IX coordinator, Disabilities Resource Center staff, and other school employees regarding Title IX ’s and Section 504’s protections for pregnant students and the academic adjustments and special services available to pregnant students.
Completing and documenting its investigation of the student’s complaint of pregnancy discrimination. And,
Taking other measures to remedy the discrimination against the student.