Dr. Rachel Tudor was denied tenure and terminated from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Oklahoma in 2011 after she began living as a woman. Today, a jury in the Western District of Oklahoma ruled that the University discriminated against Dr. Tudor on the basis of sex in violation of Title VII, a federal nondiscrimination law prohibiting sex discrimination. They returned a $1.165 million verdict.
“We are thrilled that Dr. Tudor has finally achieved a measure of justice, after a years-long court battle against discrimination,” said TLDEF Executive Director Jillian Weiss. “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. We commend Dr. Tudor’s attorneys for their incredible work on Dr. Tudor’s behalf. Ezra Young of the Law Office of Ezra Young, Brittany Novotny of the National Litigation Law Group and Marie E. Galindo of The Galindo Law Firm, have worked tirelessly to achieve this victory. It’s a huge win not only for Dr. Tudor, but also for all trans employees who deserve the same opportunity to work hard, earn a living and contribute to society. 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.”
Executive Director Jillian Weiss, through her private law practice prior to her joining TLDEF, initially represented Dr. Tudor on her long road to justice, and brought the case with her to TLDEF. This included filing a complaint in federal court, defeating attempts to dismiss the case, and much of the discovery. She secured a favourable ruling for Dr. Tudor from U.S. District Court Judge Robin J. Cauthron. In July 2015, Judge Cauthron ruled that Title VII protects transgender people from sex discrimination. That decision green-lighted Tudor’s case to move forward at that time.