Mental Health & Wellness Coalition v. Stanford

Click here for case documents Date Filed: 05/17/2018 Status:

On July 16, 2018, with three new students joining the suit, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) filed a motion for class action certification requesting that the court certify a class to challenge Stanford’s system-wide policies and practices that discriminate against students who are at risk of self-harm due to a mental health disability.  Stanford routinely bars students from campus and on-campus housing when Stanford perceives that they may be at risk of self-harm or experiencing suicidal ideation.  This policy and practice creates a culture of fear, wherein students are afraid that if they reach out to Stanford for help they will be banned.  DRA is representing the Stanford Mental Health & Wellness Coalition and six current Stanford students with the goal of ending Stanford’s discriminatory policies and practices.

The Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, and related state laws protect against discrimination on the basis of mental health disabilities such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.  These laws prohibit colleges and universities, such as Stanford, from discriminating against students with mental health disabilities by excluding them from university programs, services, or housing.  In violation of these laws, Stanford maintains a practice of pressuring students it perceives to be at risk of self-harm into taking leaves of absence; requiring immediate withdrawal from all classes and housing without an individualized evaluation of reasonable accommodations.

Plaintiffs do not seek monetary damages, but rather equal access to Stanford’s educational and housing programs and services.  Their ultimate goal is to change Stanford’s leave of absence and related policies and practices to address its current exclusion and punishment of students with mental health disabilities.

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