Student Sues Law School for Discrimination

GeorgiaLeeLang100Alicia Yashcheshen applied for admission to the College of Law at the University of Saskatchewan, but sought an exemption from writing the standard law school admission test, the LSAT. The law school declined to consider her application without proof of an LSAT score.

She then filed a discrimination complaint with the Human Rights Commission who requested that she file additional evidence to support her claim based on a physical disability, but she failed to do so. The following year she submitted a new application to the law school requesting certain accommodations in writing the LSAT, on account of her Crohn’s disease and hypothyroidism, including a large print test booklet, a seat close to the ladies’ room and “stop the clock” testing, which would allow her additional time for any time she spent in the ladies’ room. She also requested the opportunity to use marijuana during testing and breaks.

The law school agreed to her requests with the exception of the marijuana use and “stop the clock” test conditions.

As a result she sued the law school in the Saskatchewan Queens Bench alleging a breach of section 15 of the Canadian Charter or Rights and Freedoms. Section 15 guarantees equality rights and forbids discrimination on the basis of race, sex, mental or physical disability, ethnic origin, and religion.

The Court dismissed Ms. Yashcheshen’s application holding that the university was not subject to the Charter as it was not governmental in nature and did not further a government program or policy.

Acting for herself, she filed an appeal of the dismissal order, again alleging a Charter breach, together with an allegation of bias on the part of the law school dean, and an appeal of the lower court’s costs order against her.

The appeal court dismissed her appeal, relying on McKinney v. University of Guelph 1990 SCC 60 Canlii, for the proposition that that universities are not “government”. The Court acknowledged that she rightfully did not press her bias claim during oral argument and dismissed her costs appeal. Yashcheshen v. The University of Saskatchewan 2019 SKCA 67.

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