Oklahoma Jury Awards $1,165,000 for Discrimination/Retaliation to Male-to-Female Transgender Professor Denied Tenure


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By Malinda S. Matlock of Pierce Couch Hendrickson Baysinger & Green, L.L.P. | Oklahoma City, OK

A male-to-female transgender, Dr. Rachel Tudor, English professor at a state university in southeastern Oklahoma sued the University and the state Regents for unlawful sex discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII for Unlawful Discrimination Based on Sex,(Gender Identity, Gender Transition and Gender Stereotypes).

Specifically, Dr. Tudor alleged that the denial of her application for promotion and tenure was sexual discrimination.  She further alleged that when she filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (DOE), she was further retaliated against when she was not permitted to re-apply for promotion and tenure the following academic year.  The DOE referred her charge to the EEOC.

After investigation, the EEOC found reasonable cause to believe that the university discriminated against Dr. Tudor because of her sex and retaliated against her because she engaged in a protected activity (filing a charge).  Dr. Tudor was advised that the Vice President of the university considered transgender people to be a “grave offense to his [religious] sensibilities.”

The parties were unsuccessful at administrative conciliation and the matter was referred to the U.S. Department of Justice. The case proceeded to jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma and a verdict was returned in favor of Dr. Tudor and against the University and Regents for discrimination and retaliation and affixing her damages at $1,165,000.00 plus attorneys fees/costs to be awarded upon application.

(U.S.A. v. Southeastern Oklahoma State University et al, 5:15-CV-324-C, U.S.D.C – Western District of Oklahoma)

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