DOJ Settlement: Bazelon Center's Complaints Result in Agreement Ending Discrimination Against Bar Applicants Based on Mental Health Conditions

Posted by Alexandra Kielty - On August 18, 2014 (EST)

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced on August 15, 2014, the settlement of its investigation into complaints the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law filed on behalf of two Louisiana attorneys who faced discriminatory questions concerning their mental health and discriminatory requirements for "conditional" admission to the bar solely because of their mental health diagnosis and treatment. The DOJ says the agreement "ensures the right of qualified bar applicants with mental health disabilities to have equal access to the legal profession as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)." The Department previously sent a letter to Louisiana officials in February informing them that its investigation of the Bazelon Center's complaints found that the state's policies on admission to the bar violated the ADA on several grounds, including by making discriminatory inquiries regarding bar applicants' mental health diagnoses and treatment, subjecting applicants to burdensome investigations into mental health status or treatment, and "implementing burdensome, intrusive, and unnecessary conditions on admission that are improperly based on individuals' mental health diagnoses or treatment."

"We are pleased that the settlement reiterates what our complaints made clear," said Ira Burnim, the Bazelon Center's legal director. "The ADA prohibits bar examiners from inquiring into applicants' mental health conditions when the applicants' past conduct and performance demonstrate that they are fit to practice. There are state bar examiners that continue to operate under policies similar to those Louisiana had used. Those states are on notice that they also must end such policies."

To learn more about the DOJ decision, please click on View Page Now or go to:

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Modified On : August 18, 2014
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