Oklahoma transgender employee seeks reinstatement

In November we alerted employers that an Oklahoma City federal court jury awarded Rachel Tudor, a transgender employee, $1.165 million in her discrimination, retaliation and hostile work environment lawsuit against Southeastern Oklahoma State University (SEOSU). Since that time, at least three other federal appeals courts have likewise held that discrimination on the basis of transgender status violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The November verdict, however, did not mean the dispute between Tudor and SEOSU was over.

In addition to lost compensation and benefits, a successful Title VII plaintiff who has been found to have been discriminatorily discharged may ask the court to order the employer to reinstate the plaintiff to their former job. Tudor’s lawsuit contested the denial of tenure and ultimate termination from her position as an associate professor. When she won at trial, Tudor asked the court to order her reinstatement to a tenured position at the Durant, Oklahoma, campus. In January, Judge Cauthron denied Tudor’s request.  The court not only concluded that ongoing hostility between Tudor and her employer made reinstatement unworkable, but that Tudor had not adequately shown her qualifications entitled her to a tenured position at SEOSU.

Tudor has asked the court to reconsider its decision, and the university continues to oppose her reinstatement to SEOSU’s faculty. We are following this case and will advise employers about any new developments.

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