An issue that has been at the forefront of the national conversation is that of the LGBTQ community and all of the confusion that surrounds it. If asked, a lot of Oklahoman’s would tell you that this issue does not impact their state or the people in it when compared to people in California for instance. These people holding this belief would be wrong. The LGBTQ community is just as prevalent in Oklahoma as it is in California. People that are members of this community are being discriminated against and they are standing up and fighting for their rights under the law.
In December of 2017, a federal jury awarded over one million dollars to a transgender professor of English at Southeastern State University who had been denied tenure because of her transgender status. Dr. Rachel Tudor, who presented as a man, was hired by Southeastern Oklahoma State University as an assistant professor in 2004, In 2007, she began to transition and present as a woman. She applied for the tenured position of associate professor in 2009, but her application was denied over the recommendations of tenured faculty members. Tudor was then terminated during the 2010–11 school year based on her lack of tenure. She sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the case proceeded to trial after the district court denied the school’s motion for summary judgment. Although jurors rejected the plaintiff’s hostile work environment claim, they awarded Tudor $1,165,000 for discrimination and retaliation.
Dr. Tudor alleged that she had suffered significant harassment and discrimination after she made the announcement of her transition and proceeded to file the suit asserting that she was subjected to a hostile work environment and discriminated against placing the school in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that
“prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. “
Northeastern State argued that Tudor had failed to provide sufficient evidence of a hostile environment and offered just a “handful” of insults, incidents or comments. U.S. District Judge Robin J. Cauthron disagreed.
“Rather, [the plaintiff] argues that every day over the course of a four-year period she had restrictions on which restrooms she could use, restrictions on how she could dress, what makeup she could wear,” the court said. “She was also subjected to hostilities from administrators targeting her gender, such as using an improper pronoun to refer to her and other gender-based hostilities.”
The case moved onto trial and after two days of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff Tudor on three counts:
- she was denied tenure in 2009-10 because of her gender
- the defendants’ decision to deny her the opportunity to apply for tenure in 2010–11 was because of her gender
- she was denied the opportunity to reapply for tenure in retaliation for her complaints about workplace discrimination
Jurors did, however, reject Tudor’s hostile work environment claim. Dr. Tude was awarded a total of $1,165,000.
LGBTQ Discrimination in the Oklahoma Workplace
Progress has been made within the realm of the legalization of same-sex marriages in some countries, many of the LGBTQ community has a very real fear that revealing their sexuality or sexual orientation at the workplace will bring with it negative consequences. The major challenge for LGBTQ people in the workplace is continuing harassment or discrimination. It is estimated that 40 percent of lesbians, gay, and bisexuals experience harassment and discrimination within the workplace because of their sexual orientation. The statistics for transgender employees, on the other hand, is substantially higher, with 97 percent experiencing harassment or discrimination within the workplace due to their gender identity.
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Whether you are entering the job market for the first time or were recently terminated, it is important to understand your rights as a worker. Both federal and state governments have enacted a wide range of employment laws protecting employees from discriminatory treatment, unfair labor practices, unsafe work conditions, and more. Working environments can be chaotic and complex. The law offices of Jones Brown Law wants to make sure you are aware of your rights as an employee or employer. If you feel you have been wrongfully treated at work or on a job, our experienced attorneys know exactly what to do. CLICK HERE to Contact Jones Brown Law.