According to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2015, Dr. Rachel Tudor, a professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University from 2004 to 2011, accused the university of discrimination in 2010 "when it denied her application for promotion and tenure during the 2009-10 academic year."
The jury decided a verdict in her favor on Monday after finding “a preponderance of evidence that she was denied tenure because of her gender” and that the university retaliated against her by denying her the opportunity to reapply for tenure in the 2010-2011 cycle.
When originally filed by the U.S. Justice Department in 2015, Obama Era Attorney General Eric Holder said that Tudor’s case against Southeastern Oklahoma State University would “send a clear message” about eliminating sex and gender-identity discrimination as the case followed Holder’s guidance that said federal civil rights laws protected transgender employees. Tudor had also filed suit shortly thereafter.
In August 2017, the U.S. Justice Department under President Trump settled with the defendants, and dropped out of the case before it went to trial. It was a preview to the current U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinding Holder’s guidance that protected transgender employees in October. Tudor and her attorneys went on to win her case without help from the DOJ.
Ezra Young, one of the attorneys who represented Tudor, pointed out the professor was hired in 2004 and fired in 2011, and was fighting on the merits of the case long before any guidance was issued by any U.S. attorney general, Democratic or Republican. “This was a case on the merits and that’s all we ever wanted it to be,” Young told law.com on Tuesday. “Guidance can come and go and she has maintained her position.”
The verdict in favor of Tudor represents a historic ruling in a transgender discrimination case that underwent a full trial.