The US Department of Justice (DOJ) sued Yale University in federal court on Thursday, alleging race discrimination against undergraduate applicants in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The provision states: “No person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
According to the 32-page complaint, Yale receives federal financial assistance from multiple agencies, including $360M per year from the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS). The suit was filed in the US District Court for the District of Connecticut following a 2018 investigation by the DOJ after a coalition of more than 130 Asian-American organizations filed a complaint with the department alleging Yale’s racial discrimination. The DOJ determined that Yale’s admission process did in fact violate the anti-discrimination law and offered the university the opportunity to comply. Yale declined.
The DOJ claims that Yale’s admission process favors and disfavors applicants based on their self-identified race:
Racially-favored applicants include applicants who identify, at least in part, as Black, Hispanic, Native American, or Pacific Islander. Racially-favored applicants also include applicants who identify, at least in part, as belonging to a favored Asian-American subgroup, such as applicants who identify as Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian, or Vietnamese. … Racially-penalized applicants include applicants who identify as Asian and/or White.
After reviewing each step in Yale’s admission process (including the “Reader” and Committee processes), the DOJ concluded that the university “subjects  applicants to discrimination on the ground of race at virtually every step of its admissions process.” This finding, paired with the failure to narrow, or time-limit, the discriminatory process or apply race-neutral alternatives, results in Yale’s violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
As a result, the DOJ seeks a declaratory judgment, a permanent injunction to prevent yale from utilizing race in its admissions process, and damages for the US and all injured applicants.