STATE OF CALIFORNIA | GOVERNOR EDMUND G. BROWN JR.

DEPARTMENT OF FAIR EMPLOYMENT & HOUSING DIRECTOR PHYLLIS W. CHENG
2218 Kausen Drive | Suite 100 | Elk Grove | CA 95758-7115
(916) 478-7251 | TTY (800) 700-2320 | Fax (916) 478-7329
www.dfeh.ca.gov

May 20, 2014 Contact: Fahizah Alim
For Immediate Release (916) 743-2374
fahizah.alim@dfeh.ca.gov

MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR SETTLEMENT LEVELS THE PLAYING FIELD FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN LAW SCHOOL ADMISSIONS

ELK GROVE – The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)
announced today a multimillion-dollar settlement that prohibits the Law School Admission
Council (LSAC) from discriminating against people with disabilities who take the Law School
Admission Test (LSAT). (HTML | PDF) Requiring reasonable accommodations for test takers
with disabilities, the more than $8 million agreement was a successful collaboration between
state and federal civil rights agencies and the private bar.

“This settlement ensures fairness and levels the playing field for persons with disabilities to enter
the legal profession,” said Anna Caballero, Secretary of the Business Consumer Services and
Housing Agency. “The Department of Fair Employment and Housing continues to take steps to
ensure that the underrepresented are helped.”

The settlement, filed Tuesday in federal court for entry of an order by U.S. District Judge
Edward M. Chen, includes an $8.73 million payment, of which $6.73 million will be equally
distributed to an estimated 6,300 individuals nationwide who applied for testing accommodations
on the LSAT from January 1, 2009 through May 20, 2014. This total includes attorney’s fees and
costs to DFEH.

“DEFH took down a longstanding barrier to entering the legal profession for people with
disabilities,” said Phyllis Cheng, DFEH Director. “California once more leads the way in
opening doors for all who strive to become future attorneys regardless of disability.”

The complaint arose from DFEH’s two-year investigation which began after the Department
received complaints of discrimination from individuals who had requested testing
accommodations on the LSAT, the examination required for admission to most law schools.

In July 2010, Cheng issued a Director’s complaint alleging that LSAC denied reasonable
accommodations to prospective test takers with disabilities, and that whenever a test-taker
received testing accommodations, LSAC sent a letter which informed law schools that 1) the
applicant was an individual with a disability; 2) the applicant’s LSAT scores “did not have the
same meaning” as other applicant’s test scores; and 3) that the applicant’s test scores had to be
viewed “with great sensitivity and flexibility.” (HTML | PDF) The U.S. Department of Justice
joined in the federal court case, expanding it to encompass nationwide claims. (HTML | PDF)

“This nationwide settlement illustrates the important role that government enforcement agencies
can play in helping to secure relief for students with disabilities,” said Jocelyn Larkin, Executive

Director of The Impact Fund a nationally recognized expert in civil rights and systemic
litigation. “Given the difficulties that private plaintiffs can sometimes face in obtaining class
certification in disability rights cases, DFEH’s ability to pursue systemic litigation can help
protect our significant civil rights principles for all Californians.”

The mission of the DFEH is to protect the people of California from unlawful discrimination in
employment, housing and public accommodations and from hate violence. For more information,
visit the Department’s Web site at www.dfeh.ca.gov.

President Obama intends to direct the Department of Labor to significantly change the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) regulations that relate to overtime exemptions so that a larger number of employees will qualify for overtime pay.  While the details of the intended revisions have not yet been announced, it is reported that Obama will be urging at least two major changes: (1) an increase in the amount of minimum compensation that must be paid to an employee in order for the employee to qualify for exempt status (the minimum currently is $455 per week under the FLSA [please note: in California it is $640 already, so it may not represent a big change for California employees], and Obama is expected to direct that the minimum be substantially increased, with some urging that it be doubled); and (2) replacing the FLSA “primary duty” test with a more quantitative test that requires an employee to spend a certain percentage of his or her time (likely at least 50%) on exempt duties in order to qualify for exempt status. These changes would substantially increase the number of employees who qualify for overtime pay under the FLSA.

 

The IRS announced the 2014 optional standard mileage reimbursement rates.  Beginning January 1, 2014, they decrease one-half cent from the current rates in effect, and are as follows:

  • 56 cents per mile for business miles driven;
  • 23.5 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes; and
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations (same as current rate in effect).

 


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