Dear Johns Hopkins Community:
Johns Hopkins University is committed to the prevention of sexual misconduct, as well as the prompt, fair, and effective handling of related concerns. There are two new developments in state and federal law that pertain to sexual misconduct and other forms of harassment that you may find interesting.
Proposed Title IX Regulations
As you may have heard, on June 23, 2022, the United States Department of Education (DOE) released proposed Title IX regulations: https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-education-releases-proposed-changes-title-ix-regulations-invites-public-comment. The release commences a multi-step formal rulemaking process to amend the existing Title IX regulations, which went into effect under the Trump administration in August 2020.
First, the DOE will accept public comments on the proposed regulations for 60 days after the proposed rules are published in the Federal Register (expected soon), sometimes referred to as a “notice and comment” period. The university is carefully reviewing the proposed regulations to determine whether and how best to submit comments to the DOE. We encourage all interested community members and groups to do the same; electronic submissions can be made on the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov.
Second, the DOE is required to review all submitted public comments and to respond to “significant” comments received. It may make changes to the proposal based on those comments.
Third, the DOE will issue its final Title IX regulations, including a specific date when these regulations will become effective.
There are no set time frames for the second and third steps of this process, making timing difficult to predict. The Title IX rule-making process under the Trump administration generated more than 120,000 public comments and took more than 18 months to effectuate changed law.
Maryland Employment Law
Entirely separate from the federal changes to Title IX, Maryland recently passed a new law <https://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2022RS/bills/sb/sb0450T.pdf> that changes the definitions of sexual harassment and other forms of harassment as pertains to Maryland employers and employees. This new law goes into effect October 1, 2022, almost certainly preceding the DOE’s release of the final Title IX regulations.
The Maryland law will broaden the definitions of harassment beyond current standards in federal employment law, expanding the types of conduct that will be considered unlawful harassment. The university will modify both its Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures and Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Procedures in response.
University Policy Changes
Due to the differing time frames of these impending changes in law, the university will first update the policies listed above to ensure timely compliance with Maryland employment law. We will be providing additional information about these changes in the coming months.
Subsequently, once the DOE releases the final Title IX regulations, the university will assess the additional impact on our policies. As these developments unfold, we will be sharing updates and seeking input from our community members.
We recognize that the shifting landscape in this important area of the law can be unsettling. Please know that the university is and will remain steadfastly committed to supporting community members involved in sexual misconduct matters and to the prompt and fair response to and resolution of all such concerns.
Vice Provost for Institutional Equity
Assistant Vice Provost and Title IX Coordinator