Downs v. Claflin University
We represent Kamaria Downs, a graduate of South Carolina’s Claflin University, who was forced by university officials to vacate her dormitory and move off campus during her senior year because she was pregnant. The university had a policy that prohibited that prohibited pregnant students from living on campus after their first trimester. It also required pregnant students to submit medical documentation not required of other students under a doctor’s care. Ms. Downs alleged that the university’s policy and conduct violated Title IX, a federal civil rights law that prohibits sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funds.
Claflin University took steps to address the issue as soon as it was raised by Public Justice and Correia & Puth, consistent with its ethical commitment to treat everyone equitably and respectfully. Under the terms of the settlement, the university revoked its policy on pregnant students, created a new policy designed to support pregnant and parenting students in full compliance with Title IX, and agreed to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant students in the same way it does for students with disabilities or temporary medical conditions. The university also amended its Non-Discrimination Notice to make clear that it prohibits discrimination and retaliation based on pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions. To ensure that pregnant and parenting students do not face discrimination or retaliation, the university also agreed to commit significant funds to provide additional Title IX training and education programs for students, faculty, staff, and administrators. The settlement also included the payment of a mutually agreeable amount to Ms. Downs.
Claflin University expressed appreciation to Ms. Downs for bringing this issue to its attention and confirmed its commitment to preventing discrimination against pregnant and parenting students.