Yale Settles Lawsuit Alleging Mental Health Discrimination

Leave policies will be changed under agreement with student group
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 26, 2023 3:25 PM CDT
Yale Settles Lawsuit Alleging Mental Health Discrimination
A woman walks by a Yale sign reflected in the rainwater on the Yale University campus in New Haven, Conn., in August 2021.   (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

Yale University and a student group have announced that they've reached a settlement in a federal lawsuit that accused the Ivy League school of discriminating against students with mental health disabilities, including pressuring them to withdraw. Under the agreement, the AP reports, Yale will modify its policies regarding medical leaves of absence, including streamlining the reinstatement process for students who return to campus. The student group, which also represents alumni, had argued the process was onerous, discouraging students for decades from taking medical leave when they needed it most.

The settlement is a "watershed moment" for the university and mental health patients, said 2019 graduate Rishi Mirchandani, a co-founder of Elis for Rachael, the group that sued. It was formed to help students with mental health issues in honor of a Yale student who took her own life. "This historic settlement affirms that students with mental health needs truly belong," Mirchandani said. A joint statement from Elis for Rachael and Yale, released on Friday, confirmed the settlement. Under the agreement, Yale will allow students to study part time if they have urgent medical needs.

Elis for Rachael said it marks the first time the university has offered such an option. Students granted the accommodation at the beginning of a new term will receive a 50% reduction in tuition, per the AP. The dean of Yale College, Pericles Lewis, said he was pleased with the outcome, saying he hopes the changes "will make it easier for students to ask for support, focus on their health and wellbeing, and take time off if they wish, knowing that they can resume their studies when they are ready."

(More Yale University stories.)

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