UCSB Disabilities Lawsuit Moves Ahead

On Feb. 27, U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez denied a motion to throw out Alexander Stern vs. University of California because the defendants, the UC Regents and other individuals, did not meet with plaintiff Alexander Stern before filing a motion to dismiss, as is required.

Stern filed a lawsuit against the University of California in October 2011 because he was denied a job due to disability. Stern is involved in the Disabled Students Program, which according to its website, exists “to ensure that equal access is provided to all disabled students.” 

The suit alleges that certain jobs, such as test proctor, are inaccessible to students with disabilities at UCSB simply due to their disabled status.

In their motion to dismiss, the UC Regents claimed that disabled students may not be able to perform job-related duties and that the university should be able to reserve the right to deny employment to these students.

Gutierrez’s ruling notes that the defendants failed to contact Stern with adequate time before the deadline to discuss the motion to dismiss. 

The defendants had 21 days to file the motion after being served with the lawsuit, but are required to give five days’ notice before doing so.

“Under Local Rule 7-3, defendants were required to meet and confer with plaintiff to thoroughly discuss the substance of the motion to dismiss,” Gutierrez wrote in his ruling. “For a motion to dismiss, the meet and confer shall take place at least five days prior to the last day for filing the motion.’”

Stern said that Gutierrez was right to deny the motion to dismiss the suit.

“This is a very important day for equal rights,” Stern wrote in an email. “The UC refused to follow the court’s rules. Accordingly, the court denied the UC’s motion.”

The Daily Nexus reported on March 2 that, before filing the motion to dismiss, the UC Regents had first tried to eliminate Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which forbids public schools and businesses from denying employment due to disability. 

When the initial motion was rejected, the Regents filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

Stern said that he looks forward to the UC Regents’ response to the allegations. The response is due next week.

“This case has the potential to dramatically affect the lives of students with disabilities,” Stern stated in an email. “In this economy, it is hard enough for anyone to find a job. The university should not intentionally create an unequal playing field by banning the disabled.”