Case: YU Pride Alliance v. Yeshiva University

154010/2021 | New York state trial court

Filed Date: April 26, 2021

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This is a case alleging that Yeshiva University, its Vice Provost of Student Affairs, and its President violated the New York City Human Rights Law by refusing to officially recognize YU Pride Alliance, an unofficial undergraduate student organization for LGBTQ students and their allies. On April 26, 2021, the Yeshiva University Pride Alliance and four current and former students of Yeshiva University filed this lawsuit in New York state trial court alleging that the university discriminated ag…

This is a case alleging that Yeshiva University, its Vice Provost of Student Affairs, and its President violated the New York City Human Rights Law by refusing to officially recognize YU Pride Alliance, an unofficial undergraduate student organization for LGBTQ students and their allies. On April 26, 2021, the Yeshiva University Pride Alliance and four current and former students of Yeshiva University filed this lawsuit in New York state trial court alleging that the university discriminated against them on the basis of gender and sexual orientation (N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(4)) and association (N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-107(20)). According to the complaint, the university had refused to recognize the YU Pride Alliance as an official organization and as a result denied them the benefits and accommodations that recognized clubs receive on campus. The case was assigned to Judge Lynn R. Kotler.
 
The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought declaratory and injunctive relief in the form of recognition by Yeshiva University as an official club as well as attorneys’ fees and punitive damages for injuries suffered. 
 
The defendants filed a notice of a motion to dismiss on June 3, 2021, asserting that they were a religious corporation exempt from the NYC Human Rights Law. In early September, the court converted the motion to dismiss into a motion for summary judgment. On December 17, 2021, the plaintiffs filed a cross-motion for partial summary judgment arguing that Yeshiva University was an educational institution, not a religious corporation, and therefore not exempt from the NYC Human Rights Law.  
 
On June 14, 2022, Judge Kottler granted the plaintiffs’ cross-motion for summary judgment, denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment and permanently enjoined the defendants from refusing to officially recognize YU Pride Alliance as a student organization. The court rejected Yeshiva University's argument that they were a religious corporation, finding that Yeshiva's own charter described the institution as "an educational corporation under the Education Law . . . organized and operated exclusively for educational purposes." Based on this language and other statements made by Yeshiva faculty and community members, the court determined that the university was an educational institution and therefore the NYC Human Rights Law applied to them. The court directed the university to immediately provide the plaintiffs with all benefits that other student organizations receive. 2022 WL 2158381.

The defendants appealed this decision on June 24, 2022. 
 
On August 29, 2022, the defendants filed an emergency application for stay of the permanent injunction pending appellate review with the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court denied the application for stay on September 14, 2022, on the basis that the defendants still had two more avenues of relief to pursue in state court before the trial court's decision would become final, including the option to request expedited review from the appellate court. 2022 WL 4232541.

Within days, Yeshiva University announced that it was halting all undergraduate student organization activities on campus in response to the Supreme Court's decision not to stay the lower court's ruling. The New York Appellate Division agreed to rehear its earlier denial of Yeshiva's request to stay the trial court's order. According to media reports, the two parties agreed to a stay while litigation continued, with oral argument before the appellate court expected sometime in November 2022. 

In mid-October, the ACLU, the New York Civil Liberties Union, and Americans United filed an amicus brief in support of the student organization, arguing that the church autonomy doctrine does not bar courts from applying anti-discrimination laws to religious organizations.

On December 15, 2022, the New York Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s injunction against Yeshiva University. The appellate court held that Yeshiva University was not a religious corporation and did not qualify for any exemptions for religious institutions. In addition, it held that requiring the university to give the Pride Alliance equal access to public accommodations did not violate the university’s First Amendment right to decide religious doctrinal issues or to freedom of expression and association because recognizing an organization does not entail endorsing it. Further, the court held that Yeshiva University’s First Amendment right to free exercise was not violated because the public accommodations law at issue was neutral and generally applicable. 180 N.Y.S.3d 141.

 As of November 21, 2023, the case is ongoing, with discovery ongoing over the plaintiffs’ damages claims.

Summary Authors

Rhea Sharma (9/24/2022)

Venesa Haska (11/21/2023)

People


Attorney for Plaintiff

Benavides, Marissa R. (New York)

Attorney for Defendant

Abeyratne, Kenneth Gihan (New York)

Bloom, David (New York)

Majane, Abigail Eden (New York)

Montrose, Samantha Rachel (New York)

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Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

154010/2021

Docket

Sept. 24, 2022

Sept. 24, 2022

Docket

154010/2021

Complaint and Jury Demand

April 26, 2021

April 26, 2021

Complaint

154010/2021

Decision/Order

Aug. 18, 2021

Aug. 18, 2021

Order/Opinion

2021 WL 2021

154010/2021

Decision/Order

June 14, 2022

June 14, 2022

Order/Opinion

2022 WL 2022

22-A-00184

Order Vacating Stay

Yeshiva University, et al. v. YU Pride Alliance, et al.

Supreme Court of the United States

Sept. 14, 2022

Sept. 14, 2022

Order/Opinion

143 S.Ct. 143

95

2022-02726

Brief of Amici Curiae New York Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State in Support of Plaintiffs-Respondents

New York state appellate court

Nov. 1, 2022

Nov. 1, 2022

Pleading / Motion / Brief

2022-02726

[Order]

New York state appellate court

Dec. 15, 2022

Dec. 15, 2022

Order/Opinion

211 A.D.3d 211

Docket

Last updated Feb. 14, 2024, 4:36 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
305

NOTICE OF ENTRY (Motion #010)

Jan. 31, 2022

Jan. 31, 2022

306

NOTICE OF ENTRY (Motion #012)

Jan. 31, 2022

Jan. 31, 2022

307

ORDER - INTERIM (MOTION RELATED) (Motion #006)

Feb. 7, 2022

Feb. 7, 2022

308

NOTICE OF MOTION (Motion #013)

Feb. 8, 2022

Feb. 8, 2022

309

AFFIDAVIT OR AFFIRMATION IN SUPPORT OF MOTION (Motion #013)

Feb. 8, 2022

Feb. 8, 2022

310

EXHIBIT(S) - A (Motion #013) Proposed Amicus Brief

Feb. 8, 2022

Feb. 8, 2022

311

EXHIBIT(S) - B (Motion #013) New York Times Article

Feb. 8, 2022

Feb. 8, 2022

312

EXHIBIT(S) - C (Motion #013) Center for Disease Control and Preventions Report

Feb. 8, 2022

Feb. 8, 2022

313

EXHIBIT(S) - D (Motion #013) Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Networks Report

Feb. 8, 2022

Feb. 8, 2022

314

EXHIBIT(S) - E (Motion #013) Joshua Tranens The Commentator Article

Feb. 8, 2022

Feb. 8, 2022

315

EXHIBIT(S) - F (Motion #013) V. Paul Poteats American Educator Article

Feb. 8, 2022

Feb. 8, 2022

316

EXHIBIT(S) - G (Motion #013) Human Rights Campaign Foundations Report

Feb. 8, 2022

Feb. 8, 2022

317

EXHIBIT(S) - H (Motion #013) Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policys Report

Feb. 8, 2022

Feb. 8, 2022

318

EXHIBIT(S) - I (Motion #013) New York City Labor Market Information Service's Report

Feb. 8, 2022

Feb. 8, 2022

319

EXHIBIT(S) - J (Motion #013) New York State Education Departments Report

Feb. 8, 2022

Feb. 8, 2022

320

EXHIBIT(S) - K (Motion #013) Report of the Committee on General Welfare on Local Law 39

Feb. 8, 2022

Feb. 8, 2022

321

EXHIBIT(S) - L (Motion #013) Committee Report of the Governmental Affairs Division, Committee on Civil Rights

Feb. 8, 2022

Feb. 8, 2022

322

EXHIBIT(S) - M (Motion #013) Yeshiva Universitys Article

Feb. 8, 2022

Feb. 8, 2022

323

EXHIBIT(S) - N (Motion #013) Cardozo Law Student Organizations Brochure

Feb. 8, 2022

Feb. 8, 2022

324

EXHIBIT(S) - O (Motion #013) Einstein Student Clubs Website

Feb. 8, 2022

Feb. 8, 2022

325

TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS - CERTIFIED (Motion #006) Transcript of February 10, 2022 Proceeding Held Before Hon. Lynn R. Kotler, Supreme Court Justice

Feb. 17, 2022

Feb. 17, 2022

326

NOTICE OF APPEAL (Motion #009)

March 1, 2022

March 1, 2022

327

EXHIBIT(S) - A (Motion #009) Notice of Entry and Attached Order

March 1, 2022

March 1, 2022

328

EXHIBIT(S) - B (Motion #009) First Department Informational Statement

March 1, 2022

March 1, 2022

329

DECISION + ORDER ON MOTION (Motion #006)

June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022

330

DECISION + ORDER ON MOTION (Motion #013)

June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022

331

NOTICE OF ENTRY (Motion #006)

June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022

332

NOTICE OF APPEAL (Motion #006)

June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022

333

ANSWER

July 18, 2022

July 18, 2022

334

NOTICE TO TAKE DEPOSITION

July 18, 2022

July 18, 2022

335

NOTICE TO TAKE DEPOSITION

July 18, 2022

July 18, 2022

336

NOTICE TO TAKE DEPOSITION

July 18, 2022

July 18, 2022

337

NOTICE TO TAKE DEPOSITION

July 18, 2022

July 18, 2022

338

NOTICE TO TAKE DEPOSITION

July 18, 2022

July 18, 2022

339

LETTER / CORRESPONDENCE TO JUDGE (Motion #006) Joint Status Letter

July 19, 2022

July 19, 2022

340

REMITTITUR

Dec. 21, 2022

Dec. 21, 2022

341

PRELIMINARY CONFERENCE REQUEST

Jan. 18, 2023

Jan. 18, 2023

342

DEMAND FOR: follow up good faith request for discovery

March 16, 2023

March 16, 2023

343

PRELIMINARY CONFERENCE REQUEST Plaintiffs' Second Request for Preliminary Conference

April 5, 2023

April 5, 2023

344

NOTICE OF CHANGE OF FIRM NAME OR ADDRESS (POST RJI)

June 30, 2023

June 30, 2023

Case Details

State / Territory: New York

Case Type(s):

Education

Key Dates

Filing Date: April 26, 2021

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Four current and former students of Yeshiva University and the Yeshiva University Pride Alliance

Attorney Organizations:

Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Yeshiva University (New York City, New York), Non-profit or advocacy

Defendant Type(s):

College/University

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Available Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Order Duration: 2022 - None

Issues

General/Misc.:

School/University policies

Discrimination Basis:

Gender identity

Sexual orientation

LGBTQ+:

LGBTQ+