Justice Division, Outdated Dominion College attain settlement to resolve disability discrimination criticism

NORFOLK, Virginia (WAVY) – The Justice Department announced Wednesday that it had reached an agreement with Old Dominion University (ODU) to resolve a complaint of discrimination based on disability.

The investigation related to a complaint that the university “discriminated against and rejected” a doctoral candidate because of her disability and request to change the guidelines, according to the statement released by the Justice Department.

“Students should never have to choose between their right to request appropriate changes in policy for their disabilities and their academic achievement,” said Gregory B. Friel, deputy assistant attorney general for the Department of Civil Rights at the Department of Justice.

The Civil Rights Department conducted the investigation under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act 1973.

The investigation revealed that the complainant sought recognition of her right to appropriate amendments to the Guidelines and was fined for violating Title II and Section 504.

The statement goes on to say that after a dispute over the student’s request and because of her disability:

  • ODU ended its working relationship with its professor advisor;
  • removed them from the professor’s laboratory;
  • separated them from ongoing research;
  • withdrew the student’s participation in a technical conference.

The complainant was “forced to change her course of study and to find a new advisor,” it said.

ODU worked together throughout the investigation and is committed to fully complying with its legal obligations under ADA and Section 504.

The settlement agreement provides that the university:

  • Develop and distribute a retaliation policy that explains the ADA and Section 504 obligations that apply to all employees and faculties, and makes it clear that ODU will impose consequences, including termination, on those who violate the policy.
  • ODU will also offer full ADA training to administrators, faculties and employees.
  • Finally, the agreement requires ODU to pay the complainant $ 40,000 in monetary damages.

“This agreement reflects the critical role colleges and universities – as well as their faculties and staff – play in delivering on the promise of the ADA and Section 504. By working in good faith with students to make appropriate changes to the policy, colleges and universities can ensure this. Students with disabilities have unrestricted and equal access to educational opportunities at the highest academic level, ”said Friel.

Read the full version Here. The settlement agreement can be found Here.

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