Judge allows gender-bias lawsuit against Johnson & Wales to proceed
U.S. District Judge John J. McConnell Jr. on Monday rejected Johnson & Wales’ motion to dismiss the case brought by a Massachusetts man identified as “John Doe.”
A federal judge this week declined to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a male Johnson & Wales University student who was expelled based on sexual assault allegations in which he challenges the school’s disciplinary process as being biased against men.
U.S. District Judge John J. McConnell Jr. on Monday rejected Johnson & Wales’ motion to dismiss the case brought by a Massachusetts man identified as “John Doe.” According to the lawsuit, the school expelled Doe in November, five weeks after a woman with whom he had occasionally had consensual sex alleged he had twice sexually assaulted her a year earlier.
The suit accuses Johnson & Wales of violating federal Title IX policies in its handling of his case; of breaching its contract with him by failing to comply with its obligations to give him an opportunity to put on a defense; of breaching its obligations of good faith; negligent infliction of emotional distress; and unfair dealing in its investigation into the accusations brought by the woman — identified as Mary Smith.
Title IX bars discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal money. It has typically been used to safeguard female students’ rights, as in the landmark 1992 sex-discrimination case at Brown in which several female athletes sued after funding for their gymnastics team was cut. As a result, the university was forced to restore financing to the women’s gymnastics and volleyball teams.
“These young women make these claims against young men and the men get destroyed,” Doe’s lawyer, James P. Ehrhard, said. “It’s a sad situation for young men in this country.”
Ehrhard said 255 Title IX claims have been brought by men nationwide, and that Doe’s expulsion came after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos raised the standard of proof required in schools’ handling of sexual misconduct allegation from a “preponderance of evidence” to “clear and convincing.”
“By making every young man a predator, they do a disservice to true sexual-assault victims,” Ehrhard said.
“Johnson & Wales University does not comment on active litigation,” Ryan J. Crowley, spokesman for the university, said.
The lawsuit asks the court to reverse the school’s findings and sanctions; expunge Doe’s disciplinary record; make all reasonable efforts to restore his reputation; and allow the plaintiff to resume and complete his education at the school.