Stephen J. Vaughan

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Direct: 202.295.2208 (D.C.); 612.632.3366 (Minneapolis)

Support Staff

Jacqueline D. LeGrant
Direct: 202.295.2207

Stephen Vaughan advises and counsels colleges and universities on a variety of legal and compliance issues that are specific to higher education institutions, including Title IX of the Education Amendments, the Clery Act, as amended by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, student rights and discipline, faculty matters, and employment law. Stephen has extensive experience conducting compliance audits, conducting investigations, drafting policies and procedures, and advising higher education clients, including their counsel, Title IX coordinators and teams, investigators, adjudicators, hearing panels, appeal officers, administrators, and others, on all matters pertaining to the sexual misconduct process, along with educational programming and prevention. He also frequently assists faith-based institutions in their efforts to maintain compliance while adhering to mission. And, through trainED, Stephen regularly provides training mandated by federal and state law and other specialized training to institutions nationwide.

Stephen’s higher education experience extends to the courtroom as well, where he defends higher education institutions in Title IX lawsuits, particularly those related to the institutions’ investigations and adjudications of and determinations made in misconduct proceedings. 

Stephen also advises clients on a wide range of employment law issues, including terminations, employment and severance agreements, employment-related claims, worker classification, post-termination covenants against competition, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary and other duties, fraud, tortious interference, and trademark infringement. He has successfully argued motions for preliminary injunctive relief and dispositive motions in a variety of contexts, and he has served as first chair and co-chair in federal and state courts trials on behalf of the firm’s clients.

In addition, Stephen has significant investigation experience, including conducting internal investigations and defending corporations, individuals, and higher education institutions in investigations conducted by Congress, the Department of Justice, United States attorneys and attorneys general of numerous states, and other state and federal agencies.  


Stephen has represented employers in a wide range of matters involving litigation and investigations, including:

  • Conducted numerous investigations of allegations of sexual misconduct, discrimination, and harassment involving students, employees, faculty, public safety officers, and vendors at higher education institutions
  • Conducted numerous hazing investigations involving college students and college organizations, including those involving athletic teams, club sports, Greek life, performing arts groups, and other community groups
  • Conducted investigations of faculty, administrators, students, employees, and others for violations of handbooks, codes of conduct, and other policies
  • Drafted harassment and sexual misconduct policies, student codes of conduct, and handbooks
  • Counseled higher education institutions on retaliation, speech rights, academic freedom, and religious freedom
  • Defended and counseled institutions in lawsuits claiming violations of Title IX, negligence, defamation, breach of contract, tortious interference, and due process
  • Represented brokerage firm in arbitration concerning the breach of an independent contractor agreement (dispositive motion granted in client’s favor and attorneys’ fees awarded)
  • Defended multinational company in a state court trial involving tortious interference and other employment law claims (verdict in client’s favor on all counts, upheld on appeal)
  • Represented a medical association in an internal investigation of allegations of sexual harassment, fraud, embezzlement, breach of duty by officers, and potential violations of federal statutes
  • Represented owner and company in trial in Virginia state court on fraud, embezzlement, and derivative claims against co-owner (verdict in clients’ favor on all counts, upheld on appeal)
  • Represented higher education institution in connection with a two-year investigation conducted by the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee with no material adverse findings against the institution
  • Represented franchisor in trial in federal court in New Jersey concerning termination of the franchises for violations of tax and employment laws (verdict in clients’ favor on all counts)
  • Represented large national companies in federal and state courts nationwide in preliminary injunctions concerning breach of contract, covenants against competition, trade secrets and intellectual property, and business torts
  • Represented franchisors in trial in federal court in Florida concerning the termination of the franchises for fraud (verdict in clients’ favor on all counts, upheld on appeal)
  • Represented interests of national restaurant and its employees related to a criminal proceeding in the District of Columbia
  • Represented national health care corporation in internal investigation of its practices as they related to the meningitis outbreak
  • Represented national health care provider in civil qui tam action alleging violations of FCA and Stark and Anti-kickback laws
  • Represented former director to a Congressional member in Congressional ethics investigation
  • Represented key witness in the Department of Justice’s investigation in California of a law firm for alleged improprieties in class action litigation
  • Represented subject of the District of Columbia’s investigation into a mass transit accident that resulted in a passenger’s death
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