Education Law: Higher Ed


Rapid changes are occurring in higher education, which has led to more regulations and higher levels of compliance for administration. Our attorneys monitor laws that impact colleges and universities, such as Title IX, the Campus SaVE Act and the Clery Act, to provide our clients with up-to-date counsel on compliance and reporting requirements.

We’ve spent decades cultivating relationships with higher education institutions—from community colleges, to private colleges, to public universities—so we understand that every institution is unique, with its own challenges that require creative solutions. Our attorneys are equipped to integrate an array of legal disciplines, such as public entity defense, real estate, trusts and estates, and tort and personal injury litigation, to provide comprehensive counsel to higher education institutions. 

Because many of our higher education clients are among the largest employers in the region, they can face complex human resources challenges. Our attorneys are well-versed in this distinct intersection of employment and higher education law, and are prepared to assist our clients with the defense of discrimination suits and whistleblower claims, faculty tenure and discipline issues, and compliance with Title VII, ADA, and other state and federal laws. Our wage and hour attorneys are on call to provide FLSA advice for matters unique to higher education.

In addition to defending universities in litigation, we also conduct on-site training on topics such as discrimination and harassment prevention, tenure review, and additional training for supervisors. Two of our attorneys have received advanced training in Title IX investigations from ATIXA (Association of Title IX Administrators) and regularly provide on-site training on Title IX and sexual misconduct procedures, Title IX investigator training, and Title IX hearing panel training.

When circumstances require that an investigation of student or employee misconduct be handled by an outside party, our attorneys are prepared to assist higher education institutions by acting as special investigators.

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Higher Education Litigation Experience

  •  Raithatha v. University of Pikeville, et. al, No. 7:16-CV-251 (E.D. Ky. 10/13/17). Win for the University on alleged race and national origin discrimination claim from dismissal of medical student.

  • Richard Crosby v. University of Kentucky, 863 F.3d 545 (6th Cir. 2017).  Win for the University on alleged due process violations associated with removal of department chair.   

  • Doe v. University of Kentucky, 860 F.3d 365 (6th Cir. 2017).  Win for the University as the Court abstained from hearing claims with a pending student disciplinary matter.

  • Williamson v. Saunier, 2017 WL 2211376 (Ky.App. 2017).  The Kentucky Court of Appeals held that University fire marshals are entitled to qualified immunity for claims associated with their inspection of a premises.

  • Williamson v. Morehead State University, 2017 WL 465318 (Ky.App. 2017).  Win for the University affirming sovereign immunity.

  • Bailey v. Kentucky Community and Technical College System, 2016 WL 205504 (W.D.KY. 2016).  Summary Judgment for the University on professor’s Title VII claims.

  • Jackson v. University of Kentucky, 2016 WL 3951084 (E.D.KY. 2016).  Win for the University on student’s challenge to University student misconduct proceedings.

  • Kentucky Mist Moonshine Inc., v. University of Kentucky, 192 F.Supp.3d 772 (E.D.Ky. 2016). Win for the University as the Court dismissed claims against the University where plaintiff sought to debate the University’s trademarks.

  • Hendrix v. Northern Kentucky University, U.S. District Ct. Case No. 2:14-cv-79 (WOB-CJS). Win for the University, as the U.S. District Court granted summary judgment in favor of NKU, finding that NKU’s decision not to award Plaintiff a nursing degree did not violate her due process rights.

  • Overly v. Morehead State University, (2013-CA-002008-MR). The Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld the award of summary judgment by the Rowan Circuit Court which dismissed Plaintiff’s claims of race discrimination and retaliation, finding no evidence in support of Plaintiff’s claims and that Morehead State University established legitimate, non-discriminatory, non-retaliatory basis for its actions.  

  • Frieder v. Morehead State University, 770 F.3d 428 (2014). Win for University that tenure denial not violation of free speech or constitutional rights or disability discrimination.

  • Hadjiev v. Board of Trustees of University of Kentucky, 2014 WL 5369331 (2014). Win for University on discrimination and retaliation claims and denial of extensive discovery of electronic data and deposition of University general counsel.

  • Furtula, et al. v. University of Kentucky, et al., 438 S.W.3d 303 (Ky. 2014). Win for University of Kentucky on issues of governmental immunity and whether unilateral personnel policies constituted an enforceable contract.

  • Coyle v. University of Kentucky, 2 F.Supp.3d 1014 (E.D.Ky. 2014). Win for University of Kentucky on defense of Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity versus Copyright Act claim.

  • Green v. Sandy, 2011 WL 4688639 (E.D.Ky. 2011). Win for Eastern Kentucky University concerning soccer player’s dismissal from team and related claims of free speech and due process violations.

  • Northern v. Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Educ., 2010 WL 3928494  (2010). Win for Council that complaints regarding known problems with oversight or negligence in operations does not constitute complaints of mismanagement or fraud under Kentucky Whistleblower Act.

  • Murray v. Eastern Kentucky University, 328 S.W.3d 679 (Ky.App. 2009). Win for university concerning alleged disability discrimination in denial of tenure.

  • Sinha v. University of Kentucky, 284 S.W.3d 159 (Ky.App. 2008). Win for university concerning medical resident’s records request and alleged violations of Kentucky’s Open Records Act.

  • Hayse v. University of Kentucky, 2008 WL 3163879 (Ky.App. 2008). Win for university concerning alleged wrongful denial of tenure.

  • Witt v. Eastern Kentucky University, 205 S.W.3d 263 (Ky.App. 2006). Win for university concerning public employee conflicts of interest.

  • Stathis v. University of Kentucky, 2005 WL 1125240 (2005). Win for University on discrimination claims finding due process provided and discovery appropriately limited.

  • Hash v. University of Kentucky, 138 S.W.3d 123 (Ky.App. 2004). Win for university concerning alleged disability discrimination of law student.

  • Paxton v. University of Kentucky, Ky. Court of Appeals (2009). Successfully defended university against claims brought by student-athlete demanding reinstatement to athletic team.

  • Bassett v. National Collegiate Athletic Ass’n, et al., 528 F.3d 426 (6th Cir. 2008). Affirming summary judgment for university against athletic coach’s employment-related claims after he was terminated post-NCAA infractions.

  • Hutsell v. Sayre, 5 F.3d 996 (6th Cir. 1993). Affirmed summary judgment on Eleventh Amendment bar to suits against university and employees in their official capacities.

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Attorneys in this Field

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