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Judge Says LA County Didn’t Give Applicants With Mental Health Disabilities A Fair Shot

The exterior of the courthouse has a blocky windowless facace above the entryway with an emblem of Lady Justice embedded into the stone.
Los Angeles Superior Court Stanley Mosk Courthouse
(Photo by Jiri Hera via Shutterstock
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A Superior Court judge says L.A. County failed to give two aspiring social workers with a history of mental health struggles a fair shot at employment.

The backstory: The decision stems from a lawsuit filed last year alleging that two graduate students of USC's Master of Social Work program were discriminated against when the Department of Children and Family Services withdrew their internships based on a psychological evaluation.

Why it matters: The two have a history of significant trauma and PTSD, according to their attorney, Stuart Seaborn, who said he believes that lived experience shouldn’t bar them from helping others who may be going through similar hardships. In the mental health world, it’s often referred to as "peer support."

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What’s next: Seaborn said his clients hope to work with the county on its policy as they head back to the settlement table. They are also seeking monetary compensation for lost wages, emotional distress and other alleged damages. In an emailed statement, DCFS said it could not “comment on any pending claim, litigation, or lawsuit involving the department at this time.”

What questions do you have about mental health in SoCal?
One of my goals on the mental health beat is to make the seemingly intractable mental health care system more navigable.