Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools


  • Petitioner Christine Franklin was a student at North Gwinnett High School in Gwinnett County, Georgia, between September, 1985, and August, 1989.
  • Respondent Gwinnett County School District operates the high school and receives federal funds.
  • According to the complaint filed on December 29, 1988, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Franklin was subjected to continual sexual harassment beginning in the autumn of her tenth grade year (1986) from Andrew Hill, a sports coach and teacher employed by the district.
  • Among other allegations, Franklin claims that Hill engaged her in sexually-oriented conversations and subjected her to coercive intercourse.
  • The complaint further alleges that, though they became aware of and investigated Hill's sexual harassment of Franklin and other female students, teachers and administrators took no action to halt it, and discouraged Franklin from pressing charges against Hill. 
  • On April 14, 1988, Hill resigned on the condition that all matters pending against him be dropped, and the school thereupon closed its investigation.
  • The District Court dismissed the complaint on the ground that Title IX does not authorize an award of damages, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.
  • This case is now in the Supreme Court.


  • Whether the implied right of action under Title IX of the Education Amendments supports a claim of monetary damages.
  • Whether Congress intended to limit relief in enforcement of Title IX.

Rule of Law

  • Cannon v. University of Chicago, 441 U.S. 677, 60 L. Ed. 2d 560, 99 S. Ct. 1946 (1979)
    • Title IX is enforceable through implied right of action, whereby a court determines that a law that creates rights also allows private parties to bring a lawsuit.
  • Drayden v. Needville Independent School District, 642 F. 2d 129 (CA5 1981)
    • Title VI of the Civil Rights act does not suport a claim for monetary damages.
  • Guardians' Assn. v. Comm'n of New York City, 463 U.S. 582, 77 L. Ed. 2d 866, 103 S. Ct. 3221 (1983)
    • Provided no support for or against awarding damages for intentional discrimination.
    • A clear majority expressed the view that damages were available under Title VI in an action seeking remedies for an intentional violation, and no Justice challenged the traditional presumption in favor of a federal court's power to award appropriate relief in a cognizable cause of action.
  • Consolidated Rail Corporation v. Darrone, 465 U.S. 624, 104 S. Ct. 1248, 79 L. Ed. 2d 568 (1984)
    • The court observed that "the majority in Guardians had "agreed that the retroactive relief is availble to private plaintiffs for all discrimination...that is actionable under Title IX."
    • The general rule, therefore, is that absent clear directino to the contrary by Congress, the federal courts have the power to award any appropriate relief in a cognizable cause of action brought pursuant to a federal statute.
  • Davis v. Passman, 442 U.S. 228, 239, 60 L. Ed. 2d 846, 99 S. Ct. 2264 (1979)
    • Presume the availability of all appropriate remedies unless Congress has expressly indicated otherwise.
  • Bell v. Hood, 327 U.S. 678, 90 L. Ed. 939, 66 S. Ct. 773 (1946)
    • Where legal rights have been invaded, and a federal statute provides for a general right to sue for such invasion, federal courts may use any available remedy to make good the wrong done.
  • J. I. Case Co. v. Borak, 377 U.S. 426, 12 L. Ed. 423, 84 S. Ct. 1555 (1964)
    • The Court specifically rejected an argument that a court's remedial power to redress violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 was limited to a declaratory jugdement.
    • The Court adhered to the general rule that all appropriate relief available in an action brought to vindicate a federal right when Congress has given no indication of its purpose with respect to remedies.


  • Title IX does support a claim of monetary damages because a law that creates rights also allows private parties to bring a lawsuit.
  • In terms of the limitation Congress intended in relief of Title IX, the traditional presumption of all available remedy applies.
  • The point of not permitting monetary damages for an unintentional violation is that the receiving entity of federal funds lacks notice that it will be liable for a monetary award.
  • Backpay does nothing for the petitioner in this case. Further, respondents’ acknowledgment that administrative action will help other similarly situated students in effect acknowledges that its approach would leave the petitioner without remedy.


  • The Court concluded that a damages remedy is available for an action brought to enforce Title IX.
  • The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.