NLRB rules that graduate assistants at private colleges and universities may unionize

college entrance with ivy_000007792866_LargeOn August 23, 2016, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or the “Board”) ruled in a 3-1 decision that graduate students working as teaching and research assistants at private colleges and universities may engage in collective bargaining. In doing so, the NLRB expressly overruled its prior decision in Brown University, which held that graduate assistants did not enjoy this right. Graduate assistants at private institutions may now unionize and bargain on topics such as benefits and working conditions. Continue Reading

Federal Court Enters Preliminary Injunction Blocking Federal Agencies From Enforcing Gender-Identity Guidelines

school suppliesOn August 21, 2016, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas entered a preliminary injunction barring federal agencies from enforcing recent guidelines that call for schools, colleges, and universities to allow students to use sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity. The injunction applies nationwide and specifically prohibits the Department of Education (ED) from initiating, continuing, or concluding any Title IX investigation that is based upon an institution’s alleged violation of ED’s gender-identity guidelines. The decision rejects the agencies’ position that Title IX and Title VII’s prohibition on “sex” discrimination includes a ban on gender-identity discrimination. The decision also declares that the agencies likely violated the federal Administrative Procedures Act (APA) by issuing gender-identity guidance without engaging in a public notice and comment process. Continue Reading

It’s Election Season: Don’t Let Your 501(c)(3) Status Hang like a Chad

Election Day American with USA flag

During election season, colleges and universities with tax-exempt status as 501(c)(3) organizations often struggle with determining compliance with the federal tax law. While the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has not recently released regulations or fact sheets in anticipation of the upcoming election, this is still a good time to reassess your school’s policies and practices regarding election activity at the federal, state, and even local levels. Continue Reading

Department of Education seeks to finalize distance education regulations

collegeIn the wake of three negotiated rulemaking sessions that failed to reach consensus on issues surrounding the regulation of distance education, the Department of Education has published an updated set of proposed rules on the issue, with a public comment period extending through August 24, 2016.

In the proposed regulations, the Department is seeking to clarify the requirements for distance education providers, including additional campuses or branches in foreign locations. The Department’s stated goal in attempting to refine and clarify these distance education requirements is to protect students and assist them in making informed decisions. Continue Reading

Beyond the criminal history box in admissions

Outside the BoxRoughly 70 million Americans—nearly one in three adults—have a criminal record. Staggering statistics like this are leading a growing number of colleges and universities to go “beyond the box” to reduce barriers to applicants with criminal justice pasts. Continue Reading

U.S. Department of Education publishes new Clery handbook

emergency-lightiStock_000014825088_MediumLast week, the U.S. Department of Education published the 2016 edition of The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting, commonly referred to as the Clery Handbook. The update was necessitated by the 2015 amendments to the Clery Act by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization. Continue Reading

VAWA: Rights and options for the complainant… and the respondent?

womeniStock_000037320342_FullThe Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) regulations at 34 C.F.R § 668.46(b)(11)(vii) indicate that “… when a student or employee reports to the institution that the student or employee has been a victim of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, whether the offense occurred on or off campus, the institution will provide the student or employee a written explanation of the student’s or employee’s rights and options…” Continue Reading

Not So Fast: Supreme Court finally rules on affirmative action after second consideration of Fisher v. University of Texas

JOSEPH SOHM VISIONS OF AMERICA © 1999 PHOTOSPIN www.photospin.comOn June 23, 2016, the Supreme Court released its long-awaited opinion in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a case that challenged the University’s consideration of race in its undergraduate admissions process. The Court upheld the University’s admissions process, holding that affirmative action remains constitutional within certain limits. Continue Reading

Can non-exempt employees get a salary? Consider the fluctuating workweek method

Pay DayA common misconception is that the phrases “non-exempt employee” and “hourly employee” are interchangeable. However, non-exempt employees are not necessarily hourly employees; the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) allows colleges and universities to pay their non-exempt employees on a salary basis as long as they meet minimum wage and overtime mandates. Paying certain non-exempt employees on a salary basis may prove a useful tool as institutions weigh the changes on campus necessitated by new FLSA regulations (previously discussed here). Continue Reading

Raise Your Voice: Resources for campus voter registration requirements


voterButtons164651635Colleges and universities are required to make voter registration forms widely available to students.

As a condition of participating in Title IV Federal Student Aid programs, postsecondary institutions must make good-faith efforts to:

  • distribute voter registration forms to
  • all on-campus students
  • enrolled in their degree or certificate programs.

Continue Reading