ANALYSIS OF U.S. v. LSAC SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
The agreement between the Law School Admission Council and the U.S. Department of Justice calls for some concessions on both sides and recites a laundry list of LSAC’s pre-existing practices that the Council promises to continue and that the government endorses. The agreement is limited to how LSAC processes requests for testing accommodations for persons with physical or visual impairments and expressly excludes other disabilities covered by the ADA.
The Law School Admission Council agreed:
- to grant accommodation requests when candidates with exclusively physical and/or visual disabilities provide the required documentation forms and can document that they received the same accommodation on a previously administered standardized admission test.
- to ask candidates seeking accommodations to elect whether they wish LSAC to correspond with them in writing or by e-mail;
- to provide the requested accommodation to one of the named complainants if she elects to take the LSAT again;
- to report annually on LSAC’s disposition of requests for accommodations from individuals with physical and visual impairments;
- in cases where LSAC grants an accommodation different than the one requested, to notify the candidate and advise him/her of the right to seek reconsideration; and
- to pay the government $20,000 "in the interests of an amicable resolution" of the lawsuit.
The government agreed:
- to dismiss its claims with prejudice;
- to dismiss the lawsuit without any consent decree being entered;
- to drop its demands for civil penalties, compensatory damages, and injunctive relief;
- to terminate its investigation, and close the files, of five individual complainants;
- that LSAC has the right and responsibility to make individualized judgments about requests for testing accommodations based on reasonable documentation timely submitted;
- to withdraw its demand for a formal, independent appeals process and to endorse LSAC's pre-existing reconsideration process;
- that LSAC's existing deadlines will remain in place;
- that, when issues arise under the settlement agreement, the government will (1) notify LSAC and will provide unredacted copies of complaints received, including the identity of the complainant and the complete text of the complaint and (2) work with LSAC to resolve any issues informally and in good faith; and
- to provide releases from all complainants named in the lawsuit.
The parties agreed that LSAC will continue a number of its pre-existing practices, including these:
- LSAC will continue to seek documentation that establishes the existence of a disability, describes how the impairment impacts the candidate's ability to take the LSAT, and demonstrates the need for an accommodation;
- LSAC will seek only that documentation that relates to the claimed disability and will continue not to ask persons with exclusively physical or visual impairments to submit the results of psycho-educational tests;
- LSAC will continue to communicate regularly with candidates in a timely manner to resolve documentation issues;
- when LSAC denies a request for accommodation because of insufficient documentation, LSAC will continue to promptly notify the candidate and provide a clear explanation about the deficiency of the documentation, describing what additional information might cure the problem;
- LSAC will continue to require as supporting documentation only those tests that are commonly utilized in the medical community;
- LSAC will continue to exercise its judgment when evaluating accommodation requests when those requests contain inconsistencies; and
- LSAC will continue to refer appropriate cases to outside healthcare professionals for their evaluations and recommendations regarding requested accommodations.