Cohen v. Brown University
In November 1996, we won a ruling in federal court that Brown University violated Title IX when it demoted its women’s gymnastics and volleyball teams from university-funded to donor-funded varsity status. This precedent-setting ruling, which set the standard for determining a school’s compliance with Title IX in the area of athletics, was affirmed on appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court declined Brown’s petition to hear the case, and the women’s teams were restored to university-funded status.
Leslie Brueckner and Arthur Bryant, along with lead counsel Lynette Labinger of Rhode Island, continued to monitor the consent decree in the case for the next 20 years.
In May 2020, Brown University violated the consent decree by eliminating several women’s sports teams at a time a disproportionate share of the school’s athletic resources were already being devoted to male athletes. Public Justice went back into court on behalf of the class, asking the Court to hold Brown liable for violating the decree. Our motion resulted in a settlement with Brown, approved by the court in December 2020, that requires Brown to reinstate two of the eliminated teams and allow Plaintiffs to continue to enforce the decree for several more years.