Law School Admission Council Settles Claims of Discrimination against the Disabled
In a landmark settlement with United States Department of Justice (USDOJ) ADA enforcement agency, the Law School Admissions Council, which administers the LSAT test for admission to law schools, has essentially admitted discriminating against persons with disabilities. The proposed consent decree is in the hands of the federal judge assigned to the San Francisco lawsuit.
The root of the underlying lawsuit is that persons with disabilities were unfairly targeted in the grading of the test results and their disabilities were improperly disclosed. Also, documented request for accommodations were rejected or not complied with. Several law school hopefuls agreed to be party plaintiffs along with the US Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). One of the defenses raised by the Council was that there were no regulations or publications explicitly addressing some of these issues. The USDOJ and DFEH steadfastly maintained that such regulations or publications were not necessary and that existing codes and regulations prohibited the alleged discriminatory behavior.
Of significance to this settlement is that the Council has agreed to pay a $55,000 civil penalty and has agreed to pay up to $7,675,000 in compensatory damages to the plaintiff’s that brought this lawsuit and the class of test takers over the past five years. Of this sum, $6,730,000 is being placed into an interest-bearing settlement account for persons who have been discriminated against to file claims against. Eligible persons are those who took the LSAT between January 1, 2009 and May 20, 2014. The exact method of determining eligibility and amount of compensation is still being determined. It is likely that publication of the settlement will occur over the next several months and that a website and claims administrator will be set up to process claims.
In addition to receiving monetary compensation for these discriminatory practices, persons who requested testing accommodations from between January 1, 2009 and the effective date of the decree and who were denied the requested accommodations shall be entitled to reregister to take the test and reapply for testing accommodations under the revised policies and procedures. However, except for the named plaintiffs, those persons will be required to pay the testing fee again.
The attorneys who represented the plaintiffs in this case are also going to be receiving $1,000,000 in attorney fees and costs. Persons who are interested in receiving more information on the settlement are encouraged to go to the USDOJ ADA enforcement website. Also, the Law School Admissions Council will be publishing new rules and regulations on its website.
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by Kittisak