Yale University sued for allegedly removing depressed student to avoid negative press

A Yale grad is suing the Ivy League institution, alleging that she was involuntarily held for treatment and eventually removed from campus after seeking counseling for depression because administrators wanted to avoid further damaging publicity following two student suicides.

A lawsuit filed in a New Jersey federal court on Nov. 5 details the allegation made by a woman, identified only as Z.P., that the school violated her constitutional rights and unlawfully held her for treatment at Yale-New Haven Hospital before placing her on mandatory medical leave during her senior year, The Yale Daily News reported.

According to court documents, Z.P. spoke to her religious adviser in November 2016 and shared that she was upset that the school had returned to relative normalcy quickly after two students committed suicide earlier that month.

She was advised to seek counseling, during which she was then told to admit herself to the hospital, The News reported.

The student followed the recommendations but, according to court documents, she was not made aware that after admitting herself, she could be involuntarily held. She also claims that hospital staff illegally gave her medical information to Yale officials -- something she says led to her being placed on medical leave.

The News reported that Yale University can put students on leave if school officials find that they are a “danger to self or others because of a serious medical problem.”

Z.P. did not finish out the fall 2016 semester and was not allowed to return until the following year, when she was finally able to graduate in the Spring.

A Yale spokeswoman declined to comment, citing pending litigation, according to The Associated Press, but the plaintiff’s lawyer, Robert De Groot, says that his client was asked to leave only because the school was concerned about another suicide and additional damaging attention in the media.

"This was not done to assist this young woman," De Groot told the student newspaper. "This was done to protect (Yale's) own image from being tarnished."

The lawsuit seeks damages connected to the violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.