Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

Ollier v. Sweetwater Union High School District United States District Court for the Southern District of California (2009)

Gender discrimination

Plaintiffs brought a class action lawsuit against Sweetwater Union School District (the “District”) and several individuals, alleging unequal participation opportunities for females at Castle Park High School (“CPHS”).  Plaintiffs argued that Defendants violated Title IX’s provision that prohibits excluding or discriminating against anyone on the basis of sex in educational programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.  The court applied a three-part test to determine whether the District complied with Title IX which included: (1) substantially proportionate athletic opportunities for females; (2) continuing practice of program expansion for females; and (3) the accommodation of females’ interest and abilities.  First, the court held that Defendants failed to provide females with substantially proportionate opportunities to participate in athletics, as the number of female students denied the opportunity to participate could have sustained several viable competitive teams.  Second, the court held that there was no steady increase in female athletic participation.  Even though, as Defendants argued, athletic programs for girls had expanded over the past decade and CPHS had two more teams for girls than for boys, the number of female participants, not the number of teams, determined whether programs had expanded.  Third, the court held that Plaintiffs demonstrated evidence of unmet interest and of the ability of CPHS females to participate in field hockey, tennis, and water polo.  Defendants’ argument that they could not obtain coaches for the teams was not a valid excuse.  The court held that Defendants allowed significant gender-based disparity in violation of Title IX and found for Plaintiffs on their claim of unequal participation opportunities for females.