2nd Circuit tosses Harvard Legislation grad’s Rehabilitation Act declare over bar examination lodging
2nd Circuit raises the Harvard Law grad Rehabilitation Act’s right to bar exams
April 30, 2021, 10:47 a.m. CDT
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The New York State Board of Law Examiners has sovereign immunity from a lawsuit filed by a Harvard Law School graduate who was sued for non-compliance with her anxiety-related disability. This has been decided by a federal appeals court.
The U.S. 2nd appeals court in New York ruled against Tamara Wyche, who, wearing a June 2016 suit, claimed she lost her job at Ropes & Gray after failing the bar exams twice. She passed the bar on her third try in February 2015 after being given double the time on the exam.
Law360 and Law & Crime covered the April 28 ruling.
Circuit 2 said the Board of Law’s immunity examiners were entitled to von Wyches under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability through programs or activities that receive federal funding. The board is an arm of the state that does not receive federal funding and is eligible for immunity, the appeals court said.
The board is not an operation by New York specialized courts that receive federal funding, the appeals court said.
The appeals court referred the district court to ruling on a motion to dismiss Wyche’s remaining claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The case is TW versus New York State Board of Law Examiners. The author of the opinion was Judge Debra Ann Livingston, who was also a graduate of Harvard Law School, points out Law & Crime.
Wyche had asked the legal examiners to give her 50% more time for the exam, stop breaks and separate testing facilities. She was looking for shelter for her anxiety and cognitive deficits caused by an incident in an off-road vehicle.
During the first exam, she got off-clock breaks and a test room with fewer people, the appeals court said. In the second exam, she was given 50% more time and special seats, but no breaks outside of the clock.
Wyche attorney Mary C. Vargas made the following statement to Law & Crime: “The court’s decision enables companies to take federal dollars and discriminate on the basis of disability, religion, color and gender with impunity. It is a devastating blow to our nation’s civil rights laws and, in particular, denies equal access to justice in New York. In demanding immunity to discriminate on behalf of his client, the New York Attorney General has given up its commitment to equal access. “
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