Jury awards transgender professor $1.1M for discrimination
- An Oklahoma federal jury awarded a transgender college professor $1.165 million in a sex discrimination suit Nov. 20, according to law firm McAfee & Taft.
- According to court documents, Southeastern Oklahoma State University hired Rachel Tudor in 2004 when she presented as a man. She began transitioning a few years later and complained that she was subjected to various insults, restrictions on which restrooms she could use, and restrictions on her makeup and clothing, McAfee & Taft reports.
- Tudor was initially recommended for tenure but ultimately rejected and then fired. She sued and while the jury rejected her hostile work environment claim, it found in her favor on her discrimination and retaliation claims.
Contradictory findings continue to emerge from the federal court system. While adverse actions based on gender stereotypes have been consistently deemed sex discrimination, federal district courts can't agree on whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity alone.
The federal appeals court are beginning to review these cases and weigh in, but again, without consensus. The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to answer this question, but has not yet agreed to do so.
Employment law attorneys continue to recommend that employers refrain from discriminating against applicants and employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Many also recommend including LGBT employees in your EEO policy, as the line between "sex stereotyping" and "sexual orientation" remains fine and employers may want to avoid becoming a test case.