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SLCC Found to Have Discriminated Against Pregnant Student

June 15, 2022

Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) was recently found to have discriminated against one of their students because she was pregnant.

The student asked for accommodations in her coursework based on difficulties that arose from her pregnancy. One of her classes were early in the morning, which made it difficult for her to attend class and complete homework on time. According to the official complaint, the student “requested academic adjustments from the professor to allow additional absences and the ability to turn in assignments late without a grade penalty.” This was due to her nausea and morning sickness, which the student reported to have “lasted all day and prohibited her from eating.” The professor allowed the student a few additional absences but remained firm on her policy of penalizing late work.

In one email, the professor advised the student to drop the course and told her she “needed to take some responsibility for the things that were going on.” In the complaint, the student expressed that she felt like “the professor would rather her drop out of the class than try to help her succeed.” The professor also told her that “pregnancy isn’t normally something that can be accommodated.” With no relief from the professor, the student contacted the school’s Disability Resource Center (DRC). She provided them a note from her doctor which discussed her nausea and vomiting and requested that the school make necessary accommodations for the student.

The Title IX Coordinator of the DRC determined that the student’s requested adjustments would fundamentally alter the course and therefore could not be met. He did not explore or propose alternative actions that could meet the student’s needs. The student then filed a formal complaint with the US Department of Education.

The Department of Education found SLCC to have violated several times the Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. A list of regulations made by Title IX are as follows:

  • No person shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any academic, extracurricular, research, occupational training, or other education program or activity operated by a recipient which receives Federal financial assistance.
  • Title IX prohibits discrimination against a student based on pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy or recovery from any of these conditions.
  • When necessary, a school must make adjustments to the regular program that are reasonable and responsive to the student’s temporary pregnancy status.
  • A recipient must excuse a student’s absences due to pregnancy or related conditions for as long as the student’s doctor deems to be medically necessary. When a student returns to school, she must be reinstated to the status she held when the leave began.

To resolve these violations, Salt Lake Community College has pledged to implement a voluntary resolution agreement. This agreement requires the school to adjust its Nondiscrimination Statement to include references to pregnancy as well as revising its grievance procedures to accommodate students who feel they are being discriminated against because of their pregnancy status. SLCC will require additional training for all staff in the DRC and the Title IX office and will conduct an investigation into the professor who encouraged the student to drop her course.

SLCC promises to “promptly take any necessary steps to remedy any discrimination that is found.”

Source:

https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-educations-office-civil-rights-announces-resolution-pregnancy-discrimination-investigation-salt-lake-community-college

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