Yale University is facing a proposed class action by women who say the university must eradicate sexual harassment and discrimination by allowing female students into all-male fraternities.
The university’s all-male fraternities are also named as defendants in the lawsuit filed Feb. 12 by three female Yale students who say the university engages in sex discrimination and creates a hostile educational environment through its fraternity system.
Yale also failed to adequately respond to discrimination and harassment incidents, the complaint says.
The fraternities themselves are hostile environments and discriminate against female students by denying them equal access to housing, the suit alleges.
The complaint outlines numerous examples of sex- and race-based discrimination and sexual misconduct by Yale fraternities since 2008. The plaintiffs allege that Yale failed to take action even after internal reports suggested they should more closely supervise the fraternities.
The three named plaintiffs were groped at fraternity parties during their first semester at Yale. Two of the named plaintiffs were members of a student group called Engender, which promoted integrating Yale’s fraternities to prevent sexual misconduct and challenge sex-based social and economic disparities. Female and non-binary Engender members were denied admission to Yale fraternities.
The complaint includes claims under Title IX, the Fair Housing Act, Connecticut state law, and for breach of contract. Among other things, the complaint requests an injunction against the fraternities’ use of sex in admissions and housing decisions.
A Yale spokesperson declined to comment on the complaint, but reiterated an email sent to the student body by Dean Marvin Chun condemning toxic aspects of fraternity culture following an investigation into the climate at Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.
The email also said that Yale partners with students to create a better culture and more social opportunities on campus, that Yale investigates all claims of sexual misconduct raised by students, and that all students are subject to discipline for violations of regulations against sexual misconduct and other prohibited behavior.
Schneider Law Firm LLC and Sanford Heisler Sharp LLP represent the purported class.
The case is McNeil v. Yale Univ., D. Conn., No. 3:19-cv-00209, complaint filed 2/12/19.