Legal victory for Kutztown professor refused remote accommodation


Stephen Oross, associate professor of psychology at Kutztown University, who was denied distance education accommodation following his recent heart transplant, is suing Kutztown and has just received a temporary restraining order reinstating him in “full active service” with remote accommodation. The order also prevents the university from suspending its medical benefits for the time being.

Oross, “who claims to be a heart transplant recipient who needs expensive daily anti-rejection drugs to stay alive, would suffer irreparable harm if his medical benefits ended on December 29, including having to personally pay for these drugs,” declared the restraining order of Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. “The irreparable harm the plaintiff faces outweighs any harm the defendants will suffer as a result of the temporary restraining order. “

Oross, who remains immunocompromised and says he was forced to take time off this semester to avoid teaching in person during the pandemic, said: ‘In my mind, that’s good, because it should get me back on track. teaching for the next winter and spring semesters, while preserving my insurance and other benefits.

This, however, “is only step 1,” Oross said. “Step 2 is the settlement or the court. Most importantly, step 3 is to ensure that the legal process serves as a means to change the future behavior of the KU administration and in doing so protect the right to appropriate housing for others. KU professors, staff and students who have been harmed by accommodation refusals. Perhaps, he added, “it will also be useful for people from other higher education institutions who have suffered similar harm.”

Matt Santos, spokesperson for Kutztown, said the institution’s position “has been and continues to be that we are following and complying with the demands of the [Americans With Disabilities Act]. We will certainly comply with all court decisions rendered now and in the long term. “

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