Supreme Court Backs Whistleblowers

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Supreme Court Backs Whistleblowers

Washington, DC., March 29, 2005. The United States Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision today by recognizing that whistleblowers are protected from discrimination under Title IX. The Court’s decision in Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education affords the protections of Title IX to whistleblowers who have been retaliated against based on their sex. Congress intended such lawsuits when it passed the Title IX law, justices said. And, in a 5-4 majority, the Court held that Title IX encompasses claims of retaliation where the employer retaliates against an individual because he has complained about sex discrimination.

According to the majority of the Court, Reporting incidents of discrimination is integral to Title IX enforcement and would be discouraged if retaliation against those who report went unpunished. Indeed, if retaliation were not prohibited, Title IX’s enforcement scheme would unravel. Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, writing for the majority stated that Without protection from retaliation, individuals who witness discrimination would likely not report it, indifference claims would be short-circuited, and the underlying discrimination would go unremedied

The Court’s decision sends a clear message to academic institutions that discrimination based on whistleblowing will not be tolerated, said Stephen M. Kohn, Chairman of the Board of the National Whistleblowers Center. Whistleblowers should never be retaliated for exercising their rights, and today’s decision affirms that idea.

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