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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 undergaduate 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 litgation 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.

As of November 2, 2022, this case was ongoing. 

Summary Authors

Rhea Sharma (9/24/2022)

People


Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Benavides, Marissa R. (New York)

Rosenfeld, Katherine (New York)

Selver, Max (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Abeyratne, Kenneth Gihan (New York)

Bloom, David (New York)

Majane, Abigail Eden (New York)

Montrose, Samantha Rachel (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Benavides, Marissa R. (New York)

Rosenfeld, Katherine (New York)

Selver, Max (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Abeyratne, Kenneth Gihan (New York)

Bloom, David (New York)

Majane, Abigail Eden (New York)

Montrose, Samantha Rachel (New York)

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

154010/2021

Decision/Order

June 14, 2022

June 14, 2022

Order/Opinion

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

Resources

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

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, New York), Non-profit or advocacy

Defendant Type(s):

College/University

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

None yet

Source of Relief:

None yet

Issues

General:

Gay/lesbian/transgender

School/University policies

Discrimination-basis:

Gender identity

Sexual orientation