Jury Sides with Oklahoma Transgender Woman Who Faced Employment Discrimination in First-of-its-Kind Case

By Adam Polaski • November 20, 2017 • 2:57 pm

Today, November 20, a jury in Oklahoma decided in favor of a woman in Oklahoma who faced discrimination because she is transgender. The case marks one of the first times in the United States that a jury has considered a case of anti-transgender employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sex.

The plaintiff in the case (Tudor v. Southeastern Oklahoma State University), Rachel Tudor, was hired as an assistant professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 2004, but in 2009 she was denied a promotion for a tenured position of associate professor. The denial of tenure came shortly after Rachel transitioned genders from male to female.

In 2015 Tudor sued for anti-transgender employment discrimination, and that year U.S. District Court Judge Robin J. Cauthron allowed the case to proceed under Title VII, which has been interpreted by many judges and courts to prohibit anti-LGBTQ discrimination. After all, in Tudor’s case, she faced discrimination because she was treated as if she were male, despite her female identity, which constitutes sex discrimination. Judge Cauthron was appointed to the federal judiciary by President George H.W. Bush.

The jury today found that Tudor was discriminated against because of her sex when the administration at Southeastern Oklahoma State University denied her tenure and promotion and then barred her from reapplying for tenure and promotion during the subsequent cycle. The jury also found that Tudor was retaliated against because she complained about discrimination.

Dr. Tudor had this to say, “I want to thank the jury for being fair, impartial, and deciding the case on its merits.”

Across the country, an increasing number of judges and courts are coming to the conclusion that LGBTQ people are protected from employment and housing discrimination under Title VII’s prohibitions on sex discrimination. These courts are delivering justice to LGBTQ people experiencing discrimination in unprecedented ways, a powerful message that no one should face discrimination because of who they are.

Congratulations to Rachel Tudor, her attorneys, including Ezra Young, Brittany M. Novotny, and Marie Eisela Galindo, and everyone involved in the Tudor v. Southeastern Oklahoma State University case on this important victory.

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