Catholic University Law Review


McKenzie Miller


Across all job sectors, women working full-time earned about 80 percent of what men earned in 2016. Within higher education this gender gap persists in salary, hiring, promotions, and other aspects of academic employment. Professors can seemingly attempt to remedy this under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act or Title IX of the Education Amendments, both of which prohibit sex discrimination in higher education. Circuits, however, have split as to whether Title VII preempts Title IX in actions for employment discrimination in higher education.

The Third Circuit revived this split in Doe v. Mercy Catholic Medical Center, and joined the First and Fourth Circuits in holding that employees in the education sector can pursue sex discrimination claims under either Title VII or Title IX. The Fifth and Seventh Circuits, in contrast, have determined that Title VII preempts Title IX entirely. This Comment argues that, despite Title IX’s ambiguity, it provides employee-plaintiffs a right of action to sue their universities for sex discrimination without Title VII preemption, allowing plaintiffs the flexibility to choose under which statute to pursue their claims for relief. Because Title VII and Title IX differ so greatly in their administrative requirements, filing deadlines, and available remedies, this opportunity for choice grants plaintiff-employees the critical opportunity to choose strategically the method that will best relieve and restore their interests.