Saturday, September 18, 2021
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Court Orders Southeastern Oklahoma Reinstate Trans Professor

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A federal court ordered Southeastern Oklahoma State University (SOSU) to reinstate and restore tenure to a transgender professor terminated because of discrimination.

The 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals also ordered SOSU to compensate for Rachel Tudor’s lost wages in a 55-page ruling detailing its decision to turn down a university appeal of a lower court decision. 

The court determined that Tudor was a victim of discrimination due to her gender identity. The administration was found to have hindered Tudor’s tenure and promotion then retaliated against her complaint by effectively ending her employment. 

“Given the jury verdict in favor of Dr. Tudor, it is established — and we cannot now question — that Dr. Tudor would have been granted tenure in 2009-10 absent the discrimination. We are instead restoring Dr. Tudor to the position she would have been in had Southeastern not engaged in prohibited discrimination against her,” the ruling read.

Fighting Trans Discrimination

The Durant-based institution hired Tudor as an assistant professor in 2004. Tudor began her transition three years later and was opposed by Douglas McMillan, the school’s vice president for academic affairs. Tudor was fired from the university in 2011 but won a civil rights case in 2017. The jury awarded Tudor $1.165 million but a judge later reduced the amount to $360,000 in compliance with Oklahoma’s cap on damages.

Attorney Jillian T. Weiss, who represents Tudor, released a statement on the court’s ruling. She said, “Dr. Tudor is looking forward to being the first tenured Native American professor in her department in the 100-plus year history of the Native American serving institution that is Southeastern Oklahoma State University.”

“As injurious as the sex discrimination and retaliation were to Dr. Tudor, she did not consider it merely personal. Rather, she was a symbol to those who discriminated against her. They wanted to create an environment where certain views and certain people are punished to create fear and shame instead of self-confidence and opportunity for all,” the statement read.

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