Resounding Victory for All Law School Applicants with Disabilities: Settlement in Disability Discrimination Case Against LSAC
May 20, 2014
Today’s settlement in The Department of Fair Employment and Housing v. Law School Admission Council, Inc. case is a resounding victory for all individuals with disabilities who seek a level playing field on which to qualify for entrance into the legal profession.
I thank the U.S. Department of Justice, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and my colleagues at the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center for their principled and vigorous leadership. I especially applaud the courageous individuals who came forward to stand up for their rights. Their victory was hard fought. For them today’s announcement is sweet indeed.
I am gratified that the settlement agreement is structured to bring a sorely needed measure of fairness to prospective law students. The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) has long required burdensome documentation from individuals with disabilities before allowing them the testing accommodations on the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to which they are entitled under federal and state laws. The LSAC’s approach erected illegal barriers and led to their scattered, ad hoc decision-making that was inconsistent with the medical reports and recommendations of the test takers’ healthcare providers. And to make matters worse, even if one were lucky enough to secure accommodations, the LSAC’s policy was to report that individual’s LSAT score with a scarlet letter – a score notation that not only illegally disclosed to law schools that the applicant had a disability but that also asserted that the score was less valid. This practice led many students who were fearful of its stigmatizing effect to forego seeking their rights.
Today, the LSAC’s discriminatory policy of flagging LSAT scores will no longer have a chilling effect on law school applicants with disabilities. Now they can seek the accommodations to which they are legally entitled without fear that their disability status will be disclosed to prospective law schools.