From staff and wire reports
A federal jury has awarded a transgender woman more than $1 million after finding Southeastern Oklahoma State University discriminated against her and wrongfully denied her tenure.
Jurors sided with former English professor Rachel Tudor on Nov. 20, The Oklahoman newspaper reported. Her lawsuit alleged the university treated her differently than non-transgender professors, including by subjecting her to unfair rules about bathroom use and what she could wear on campus.
“I tried not to make a big deal of it. I just wanted to do my job,” Tudor testified during the trial.
Tudor also alleged the school’s tenure committee voted in favor of granting her tenure when she applied during the 2009-2010 cycle, but administrators didn’t follow the recommendation. The university later terminated her employment in 2011.
The university denied allegations of gender discrimination, arguing that Tudor “simply did not want to earn tenure.”
“Nobody told her she would never get tenure. She was told she needed more time,” university attorney Dixie Coffey said.
Coffey said Tudor was instructed to withdraw her application by administrators before the denial so she wouldn’t be barred from reapplying later. But she didn’t withdraw her portfolio and was later not allowed to reapply, according to testimony.
Her attorney, Ezra Young, said the 54-year-old professor was “punished because she was different.” Tudor, who was hired by the university in 2004, transitioned from male to female in 2007.
“She is a different kind of woman. She’s transgender,” Young said.
A judge will determine whether Tudor will be reinstated at the school.
Jillian Weiss, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, initially represented Tudor in the case.
“We are thrilled that Dr. Tudor has finally achieved a measure of justice, after a years-long court battle against discrimination,” Weiss said. “This verdict sends a clear message. No one should ever be fired on the basis of sex. This is as true in Oklahoma as it is in California or New York, and a fair-minded Oklahoma jury agreed.
“It is particularly poignant that this verdict was returned on the Transgender Day of Remembrance, when we honour those transgender people who have lost their lives due to prejudice,” Weiss added.