The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) has failed the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) big test. And the price for failure: a $7.73 million penalty for discriminatory testing policies.
On May 20, LSAC, which administers the widespread Law School Admission Test (LSAT), paid the penalty to settle a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to the DOJ’s suit, LSAC routinely denied accommodations to disabled test takers, even in cases where the applicant had a permanent disability or documentation supporting the request. The lawsuit also said that LSAC flagged scores of students who received extra time because of a disability.
“This landmark agreement compels systemic reforms to LSAC’s treatment of test takers with disabilities and brings an end to LSAC’s stigmatizing practice of flagging the score reports of individuals with disabilities who require certain testing accommodations,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels for the Civil Rights Division in a DOJ release. “If entered by the court, this decree will impact tens of thousands of Americans with disabilities, opening doors to higher education that have been unjustly closed to them for far too long.
Through the terms of the agreement, LSAC admitted no fault in the case. However, the council did agree to stop flagging the scores of those individuals receiving extra time, as well as institute other internal controls to stamp out discrimination.
The original case against LSAC was brought by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) on behalf of 12 disabled individuals in 2012. In an interview with InsideCounsel, DFEH Director Phyllis W. Cheng said that the suit would have a large impact on helping to advanced not only disabled persons, but the legal field as a whole.
“Because the LSAT is the only test used for law school admission, denying disabled test takers a level playing field shuts off their opportunity to become lawyers, which is a disservice to them and to our society,” Cheng said.
For more on the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing’s recent actions, check out Chris DiMarco’s interview with Phyllis W. Cheng from the May issue of InsideCounsel.