JJLM Attorney Jennifer Middleton Designated as Local Counsel.
Thirty-two female student-athletes filed a detailed sex discrimination class action over 100 pages long against the University of Oregon today for depriving women of equal treatment and benefits, equal athletic aid, and equal opportunities to participate in varsity intercollegiate athletics in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The case, filed by twenty-six women’s varsity beach volleyball team members and six women’s club rowing team members in U.S. District Court in Eugene, Oregon, seeks “to hold Oregon accountable for discriminating against all of its female student-athletes and potential student-athletes, make Oregon pay damages to the women it has deprived and is depriving of equal treatment and equal athletic financial aid, and stop Oregon from violating Title IX in the future.”
Title IX, a federal civil rights law, prohibits sex discrimination by the University of Oregon and all educational institutions that receive federal funds. The women’s beach volleyball team members “aim to hold Oregon accountable for depriving them and all varsity female student-athletes of equal treatment and equal athletic financial aid in violation of Title IX.” The women’s club rowing team members “seek to hold Oregon accountable for depriving them and all present and future female students at Oregon of equal opportunities to participate in varsity athletics.”
“Title IX has been the law for more than fifty years. Oregon needs to comply with it, now,” said Arthur H. Bryant of Bailey & Glasser in Oakland, CA, lead counsel for the women. “Three months ago, The Oregonian exposed the school’s blatant sex discrimination in a front-page investigative report: “Oregon Ducks beach volleyball players detail disparate treatment that experts say could violate Title IX.” But the school refuses to change its ways or even admit there is a problem. It has taught its women athletes what the history of Title IX has shown: If women want equality, they need to fight for it. So that’s what the women at Oregon are doing.”
Lead Plaintiff Ashley Schroeder, captain of the women’s varsity beach volleyball team, said, “Based on the way the beach volleyball team has been treated, female athletes at Oregon do not need much food or water, good or clean clothes or uniforms, scholarships, medical treatment or mental health services, their own facilities, a locker room, proper transportation, or other basic necessities. Male athletes are treated incredibly better in almost every respect. This week, we could not practice because, sadly and disturbingly, someone died near the public courts we have to use in Amazon Park. We cannot use the restrooms there because they’re not safe and, sometimes, people are in the stalls using drugs. But the men’s teams have full scholarships, multi-million-dollar budgets, and professional-level, state-of-the-art facilities. I love the University of Oregon, but this hurtful, outrageous sex discrimination has to stop.”
The lawsuit cites Oregon’s own data to show the school is depriving women of equal treatment and athletic aid. According to its Equity in Athletics Disclosure Act numbers, verified by Oregon as accurate to the federal government, women are 49% of the student-athletes, but Oregon spends only 25% of its athletics dollars and 15% of its recruiting dollars on them. To make up for the unequal athletic aid it paid its male student-athletes from 2017-18 to 2021-22, the past five years for which data is publicly available, Oregon would have to pay over $4.5 million in damages to its female student-athletes. And the unequal expenditures continue.
Plaintiff Elise Haverland, the women’s club rowing team captain, said, “We love this school, but, in addition to treating its women athletes unfairly, it is also depriving us and other women of equal opportunities to participate. Oregon’s own numbers show it needs to add at least 94 varsity women athletes to reach proportionality. That includes a women’s rowing team and more.”
“We are proud to represent these courageous women who have decided to stand up and fight for the equality Title IX requires and against the sex discrimination that Title IX prohibits,” said co-counsel Lori Bullock of Bailey & Glasser in Des Moines, Iowa. “These young women did not go to school imagining they would sue their university, but they are committed to fighting for what is right.”
The other Plaintiffs in the case are women’s varsity beach volleyball players Zoe Almanza, Jade Bernal, Kendall Clark, Josie Cole, Vivian Donovan, Halli Fields, Siulolovao Folau, Natasha George, Josie Griffiths, Alexandra Haden, Delaney Hopen, Madelyn Lafollette, Alex Laita, Anastasia Lima, Mia Lopez, Dahlia McAllister, Presley McCaskill, Abigail Plevin, Valerie Peterson, Batia Rotshtein, Savannah Siegrist, Alaina Thomas, Ella Tyus, Carly Wallace, and Beatrice Wetton and women’s club rowing team members Claire Daley, Anna Maria Knight, River Ribeiro, Sophia Schmitz, and Sydney Weddle.
Local counsel Jennifer Middelton of Johnson Johnson Lucas & Middleton in Eugene, OR, said, “The students have filed this lawsuit to ensure the university follows the law and treats women athletes fairly. It’s time for the University of Oregon to live up to its principles.”
Joshua Hammack, Cary Joshi, Laura E. Babiak, and Savanna Jones of Bailey & Glasser in Washington, DC, and Charleston, WV, also represent the women.
https://www.opb.org/article/2023/12/01/female-athletes-sue-university-of-oregonalleging-title-ix-violations/#:~:text=Sports,Female%20athletes%20sue%20the%20University%20of%20Oregon,IX%20violations% 20by%20the%20school&text=Dec.,treatment%20and%20opportunities%20to%20wome n.