Quinnipiac settles with student after mental health discrimination suit

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HAMDEN–The Justice Department announced on Monday that it settled a case with Quinnipiac University regarding a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The case was about allegations that a student who was diagnosed with depression was placed on a mandatory medical leave of absence from school before options were considered for how the student could continue school.

The student said she sought out mental health counseling at the school, and that after she was “removed” without her approval the school wouldn’t refund her tuition. The investigation revealed that the school wouldn’t consider modifying the policy regarding medical leave to allow the student to finish her school work while living off campus and attending school either online or in person.

“Quinnipiac removed this student from the university at a very vulnerable time in her life, and saddled her with a large student loan payment,” said U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly.  “Instead of removing students from school, educational institutions must be equipped to manage and educate students who recognize, disclose and are treating their mental health disabilities.

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of any disability–including depression–by places that offer public accommodations.

The school agreed in the settlement to pay the student $17,000 to compensate for her emotional suffering, and $15,126.42 to pay off the loan she had for her tuition.

Another part of the settlement was that the school will institute a new policy that doesn’t discriminate against applicants or students based on disabilities–physical or mental. The school will also look into ways to help students with mental health disabilities continue participating in school while seeking treatment.

All staff at Quinnipiac will also be trained on mental health disability discrimination and Title III of the ADA.