Academic journal article Boston College Law Review

TITLE VII IS NOT THE ONLY CURE FOR EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION: THE IMPLICATIONS OF DOE V. MERCY CATHOLIC MEDICAL CENTER IN EXPANDING CLAIMS FOR MEDICAL RESIDENTS UNDER TITLE IX

Academic journal article Boston College Law Review

TITLE VII IS NOT THE ONLY CURE FOR EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION: THE IMPLICATIONS OF DOE V. MERCY CATHOLIC MEDICAL CENTER IN EXPANDING CLAIMS FOR MEDICAL RESIDENTS UNDER TITLE IX

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Civil rights legislation enacted throughout the 1960s was aimed at broadly protecting against discrimination, yet glaringly failed to address discrimination against gender.1 In particular, women were being denied the requisite educational opportunities to achieve professional careers in law and medicine.2 Congress passed Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments in 1972 to combat gender discrimination in federally funded educational institutions.3 The statute filled the gaps left by Title VI, which aimed to eliminate discrimination in federally financed programs, and Title VII, which aimed to protect against discrimination exclusively in the employment context.4 As Senator Evan Bayh noted during the Congressional discussion on Title IX, the goal of the amendment was to provide legal protection for women in higher education, particularly in the legal and medical professions.5 Since Title IX's enactment, the disparity between the number of women and men in professional occupations such as law and medicine has significantly diminished.6 While the purpose of Title IX has traditionally been focused on equalizing educational opportunities, courts have continuously expanded its cover age to address employment discrimination in educational institutions.7 Thus, when bringing a gender discrimination claim against an educational institution, a disagreement exists amongst courts if Title VII's carefully constructed administrative framework should pre-empt a plaintiff's Title IX claim.8

In March 2017, in Doe v. Mercy Catholic Medical Center, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that a medical resident participating in a private hospital's medical residency program could bring a Title IX claim against the hospital for employment discrimination based on sex.9 In reversing the lower court's dismissal of these claims, the Third Circuit declined to follow the reasoning of the Fifth and Seventh Circuits, instead aligning itself with the First and Fourth Circuits.10 The Mercy II ruling revived the longstanding debate of whether Title VII remains the exclusive remedy for employees in federally funded institutions alleging sex discrimination.11 As the courts have not considered this issue for almost twenty years, the question of whether a medical student can bring a Title IX rather than a Title VII claim is ripe for a Supreme Court ruling.12

This Comment argues that the Third Circuit correctly aligned itself with the First and Fourth Circuits in holding that a medical resident is not limited to bringing a Title VII claim for employment discrimination and that a medical residency program qualifies as an educational program or activity subject to Title IX protections.13 The Third Circuit reasoned that Title VII and Title IX are distinct statutes providing different methods of due process to address discrimination, and a plaintiff is not limited to only utilizing Title VII to seek relief.14 In keeping with the Supreme Court's broadly construed interpretation of Title IX, as well as the legislative intent, the Third Circuit's liberal application of Title IX supports the statute's policy goals of eradicating gender discrimination in higher education and the workforce.15

Part I of this Comment develops the historical framework of Title IX and Title VII, and provides background information on the Third Circuit case that deepened the existing split circuit.16 Part II of this Comment discusses the Third Circuit's interpretation of the word "education" and the guiding principles the court used to conclude that Title IX encompasses a medical residency program.17 Part III of this Comment analyzes whether Title VII preempts Title IX, the implications of allowing medical residents to bring Title IX claims, and how the Third Circuit's interpretation fits within Congress' policy goals of eradicating gender discrimination in educational programs.18

I. TITLE IX'S ORIGINS AND DOE V. MERCY CATHOLIC MEDICAL CENTER

Section A of this Part discusses the inception of Title VII and Title IX and analyzes how courts have interpreted these statutes in relation to employment discrimination claims. …

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