In Rashdan v. Geissberger, published August 26, 2014, the 9th Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of a university and several of its administrators and instructors in a discrimination case brought under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The plaintiff was an Egyptian dentist who had enrolled in a dentistry program to obtain credentials to practice in the United States. Her instructor referred to her clinical work on a patient as "Third World Dentistry." Another instructor then called her "TW," explaining it stood for "Third World." She eventually was not recommended for graduation and underwent a remedial quarter of instruction; when that proved unsuccessful, the school offered a plan for an additional remedial quarter, but instead of taking the quarter or appealing, the plaintiff took a leave of absence and filed suit, alleging discrimination against her national origin in violation of Title VI
The court, joining other circuit courts, held that the same analysis applied in Title VII discrimination suits applied to Title VI national-origin discrimination suits. Under that analysis, the plaintiff has the burden of stating a prima facie case of discrimination before the burden shifts to the defendant to show a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for its actions. Here, the evidence, taken in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, did not state a prima facie case for discrimination. The "Third World Dentistry" comment was offensive, but it was aimed at the plaintiff's work, not her personally.