Summary: was targetted as a 'troublemaker' for missing time in PhD due to illness, PhD went badly, I dropped out halfway through. Should I seek formal acknowledgement of discrimination, to clear my name and limit damage to my career?
I did 2 years of a 4 year course at a university in the UK. I am disabled and for medical reasons was not always able to attend. I had medical evidence provided by my doctor, and a disability needs assessment written up by the university's disability support service, which (among other things) specifically mentioned that I would not always be able to attend.
The head of my department noticed my absence at some events and asked me about it - I told her I was absent for medical reasons.
From then on I came under repeated close scrutiny from her and she tried to get me out of the department - mostly by discreet means such as telling my supervisor he should refuse to supervise me as I would cause trouble, and claiming that my work showed I lacked the basic skills to be a student in her department (after which a meeting was held between her, my supervisor, and the head of my programme, at which the head of programme decided she was wrong and not to persue it further).
During these processes, numerous emails were sent around (most of which I don't have copies of, but was shown by my supervisor) to various people, some saying I was a problematic student and others disclosing confidential details of my disability without my permission, including to people who definitely didn't need to be told them (such as admins booking meeting rooms). I discussed this with the disability service, who got in touch with the department to remind them of my needs assessment.
Eventually my attendance dwindled more- when I was well enough to attend, I felt very uncomfortable in the department, where anyone I walked past might have been CCd into an email from the department head calling me a troublemaker or with private details. My work, which had started off well, degraded and my supervisor became unhappy.
I decided to suspend for 3 months to focus on health and get some distance from the departmental politics. My supervisor refused to sign my suspension form, as he was unconvinced that my work would improve after returning. I left anyway and effectively acted as if I were suspended for 3 months, after which I decided to withdraw as I had been offered a job which was more appealing than my unhappy PhD life.
I might want to try again at doing a PhD at another uni in a couple of years time. I am worried that dropping out of the last one will reflect poorly on me - but I feel that it was partly as a result of harassment due to my disability. Should I seek any formal recognition - either legally or through some university process - of discrimination, to help clear my name of the slander given against me and to clear an embarrassment from my CV?