Legal Advocacy Fund Cases

Read on for quick updates on the status of our currently supported cases, and click on the case name for more in-depth information. Looking for a past case? Check out the full list.

Photograph used with consent of Royal Image Photography

Spencer v. Virginia State University

Adopted 2017
“The admonition has always been, how dare I use my voice. How dare I speak out for others? But, most importantly, how dare I challenge and resist patriarchal and sexist oppression in the fight for equality. Most will not yield to a voice. Instead, they ensure that the cost of speaking/fighting takes everything from those who often only have a little. That is the silencing strategy.”
— Zoe Spencer, Ph.D.

Zoe Spencer, Ph.D., was the Gender Equity Task Force chair at Virginia State University, but she alleges she’s been retaliated against for identifying deficits in gender equity, including unfair pay for herself and other women faculty.


Portz v. St. Cloud State University

Adopted 2017
Under Title IX universities must provide equal opportunities for students to participate in sports. Title IX compliance can be achieved in three ways: by ensuring proportionate opportunities for all athletes, by demonstrating a history of and continuing commitment to program expansion, or by fully and effectively accommodating the interest and abilities of the underrepresented sex. The plaintiffs in Portz v. St. Cloud State University allege that by proposing to eliminate two women’s sports teams entirely, St. Cloud State University is denying women athletes equal opportunity for participation in sports.


Robb v. Lock Haven

Adopted 2017
The eight student athletes AAUW supports in this case through the Legal Advocacy Fund legal case support program allege that Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania failed to comply with Title IX mandates on participation by gender. These students further claim they have experienced roster manipulation, a method some schools use to appear Title IX compliant when in fact they are in violation of the law.


Aileen Rizo

Rizo v. Fresno County Office of Education

Adopted 2015
Aileen Rizo is a math consultant for the Fresno County Office of Education (FCOE) in Fresno, California. She filed suit against the FCOE under equal pay and gender discrimination laws after discovering she was paid less than her male colleague who had less experience and seniority. Knowing that the use of salary history is one underlying factor of the gender wage gap, Rizo challenged the FCOE’s practice of basing pay exclusively on an employee’s salary history. On April 27, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit handed down an unfavorable decision in Rizo’s case. AAUW joined an amicus brief in support of Rizo’s petition for rehearing en banc — in front of all the judges of a court rather than only a selected panel — and urged the Ninth Circuit to reconsider, and on August 29 the Ninth Circuit Court granted a petition for rehearing en banc.


Nathalie Gosset

Gosset v. Lasch, Cooper, Alfred E. Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering, University of Southern California: A Sexual Harassment Case

Adopted September 2016
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from sexual harassment and forbids employers from retaliating against their employees for filing a charge of harassment or speaking out against harassment. Nathalie Gosset, the plaintiff in Gosset v. Lasch, Cooper, Alfred E. Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering, University of Southern California, alleges that she experienced sexual harassment by her employer and was terminated after she reported the behavior. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII, and retaliation against employees who report harassment is alarmingly widespread.

Return to the Legal Advocacy Fund Legal Case Support page.

View the list of AAUW’s past supported cases.