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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 3, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 14
DOJ sues Oklahoma university for discriminating against Trans woman
Section One
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DOJ sues Oklahoma university for discriminating against Trans woman

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed suit against Southeastern Oklahoma University, charging the school with discriminating against a Transgender woman professor.

Rachel Tudor was hired as an English professor by the school in 2004. In 2007 she transitioned while continuing to work in the school's English Department.

Despite getting a favorable tenure review, Tudor was denied tenure 2011, which would have guaranteed her job security. When she complained, she was fired.

DOJ stepped in, Attorney General Eric Holder said, because discrimination against Trans employees is prohibited by U.S. civil rights laws.

'By standing beside Dr. Tudor, the Department of Justice sends a clear message that we are committed to eliminating discrimination on the basis of sex and gender identity,' Holder said in a statement. 'And we will continue to work tirelessly, using every legal tool available, to ensure that transgender individuals are guaranteed the rights and protections that all Americans deserve.

'We will not allow unfair biases and unjust prejudices to prevent transgender Americans from reaching their full potential as workers and as citizens.'

In December 2014 Holder issued a ruling that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and other federal laws that prohibit discrimination based on sex or gender also protect Trans people.

The school said it did nothing illegal.

'Southeastern Oklahoma State University is committed to diversity and equal employment opportunities,' a spokesperson said. 'The University is confident in its legal position and its adherence to all applicable employment laws; however, due to the litigation, Southeastern has been advised by the [Oklahoma state] Attorney General's Office not to discuss any specifics concerning this matter.

'We will allow the legal system to run its course, while we direct our focus and energy on our top priority, that of educating our students.'

Another federal agency, the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) has brought suit against Saks Fifth Avenue, charging that the iconic clothing store illegally discriminated against a Trans salesperson.

Federal officials have also supported the suit of a Transgender middle school student who was forbidden to use the school restroom that corresponds to his self-identified gender.

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