Deborah L. Brake

Professor of Law and John E. Murray Faculty Scholar, University of Pittsburgh

Connect with Deborah

About Deborah

Brake researches and writes on issues relating to gender equality, with a particular focus on Title IX (which prohibits sex discrimination in any school or educational institution receiving federal funding) and discrimination in employment. Her work on Title IX includes equal opportunity in athletics and, more recently, university responses to campus sexual assault. Her work on employment discrimination has focused on retaliation, pregnancy discrimination and pay discrimination, among other areas. Brake teaches courses related to gender and the law, including a seminar on Title IX. Before joining the faculty in 1998, she was a senior counsel at the National Women's Law Center.

In the News

"Pro-Con: Should Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Rescind Obama-Era Guidelines on Campus Sexual Assault Enforcement?," Deborah L. Brake (with Donald A. Downs), Tri-City Herald, September 21, 2017.
"Remedial Grief: Leveling Down in Sessions v. Morales-Santana, Part 2," Deborah L. Brake, Human Rights at Home Blog, June 15, 2017.
"Remedial Grief: Leveling Down in Sessions v. Morales-Santana, Part 1," Deborah L. Brake, Human Rights at Home Blog, June 14, 2017.
"Notorious P.I.G: Rape Culture Meets Presidential Politics," Deborah L. Brake (with Joanna L. Grossman), Verdict, October 13, 2016.
"Afterbirth: The Supreme Court's Ruling in Young v. UPS Leaves Many Questions Unanswered," Deborah L. Brake (with Joanna L. Grossman), Verdict, April 20, 2015.
"Forceps Delivery: The Supreme Court Narrowly Saves the Pregnancy Discrimination Act in Young v. UPS," Deborah L. Brake (with Joanna L. Grossman), Verdict, March 31, 2015.


"Reviving Paycheck Fairness: Why and How the Factor-Other-than-Sex Defense Matters" Idaho Law Review 52, no. 3 (2016): 889-912.

Advocates stricter limits on the "factor other than sex" defense to the Equal Pay Act so that courts scrutinize the business justifications for the factor asserted in defense of a pay disparity.

"Getting in the Game: Title IX and the Women's Sports Revolution" (New York University Press, 2010).

Provides a comprehensive account and justification of Title IX's approach to gender inequality in intercollegiate and interscholastic athletics.

"Fighting the Rape Culture Wars through the Preponderance of the Evidence Standard" Montana Law Review 78, no. 1 (2017): 109-153.

Analyzes the controversy over the U.S. Department of Education's directive to colleges and universities to use a preponderance of the evidence standard in adjudicating allegations of sexual assault.

"Wrestling with Gender: Constructing Masculinity by Refusing to Wrestle Women" Nevada Law Journal 13, no. 2 (2013): 486-532.

Discusses an incident in which a male high school wrestler achieved fame by refusing to wrestle a girl at the state championship. Uses this event as a vehicle for exploring masculinities in sport. Concludes with a discussion of how Title IX might intervene to change the norms of masculinity in men's sports.

"The Shifting Sands of Employment Discrimination: From Unjustified Impact to Disparate Treatment in Pregnancy and Pay" Georgetown Law Journal 105, no. 3 (2017): 559-618.

Discusses and defends the recent Supreme Court pregnancy discrimination decision in Young v. UPS. Argues that the Court's approach in that case - using unjustified impact to infer intentional discrimination - is a good model for reconstructing pay discrimination claims. 

"Retaliation" Minnesota Law Review 90, no. 1 (2005): 18-105.

Provides a theoretical grounding for treating protection from retaliation as implicit in a ban on discrimination. Critiques various points in the doctrine where the case law departs from this understanding of retaliation.