DOJ Suing University in Oklahoma for Firing Transgender Professor

Holder argues Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies.


On both sides of the issue.
U.S. Department of Education

In December, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ) would be taking the position that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also protects transgender workers in its protections against sex discrimination.

Monday they announced action because of this position, filing a lawsuit against Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the Regional University System of Oklahoma for violating Title VII. Here are the details from the DOJ:

According to the United States' complaint, filed in federal district court in Oklahoma City today, Rachel Tudor began working for Southeastern as an Assistant Professor in 2004.  At the time of her hire, Tudor presented as a man.  In 2007, Tudor, consistent with her gender identity, began to present as a woman at work.  Throughout her employment, Tudor performed her job well, and in 2009, she applied for a promotion to the tenured position of Associate Professor.  Southeastern's administration denied her application, overruling the recommendations of her department chair and other tenured faculty from her department.  The United States' complaint alleges that Southeastern discriminated against Tudor when it denied her application because of her gender identity, gender transition and non-conformance with gender stereotypes. 

"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," said Attorney General Eric Holder.  "We will not allow unfair biases and unjust prejudices to prevent transgender Americans from reaching their full potential as workers and as citizens.  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."

In 2010, Tudor filed complaints regarding the denial of her application for promotion and tenure.  Shortly after it learned of her complaints, Southeastern refused to let Tudor re-apply for promotion and tenure despite Southeastern's own policies permitting re-application.  At the end of the 2010-11 academic year, Southeastern and RUSO terminated Tudor's employment because she had not obtained tenure. 

This may seem like new ground for using Title VII, but according to the Transgender Law Center it's actually not. The center notes a handful of federal cases over the last decade supporting transgender rights in the workplace. The rulings culminated in 2012 with a decision by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that discrimination against transgender workers is fundamentally discrimination on the basis of sex. (Funny detail: In that case, Macy v. Holder (pdf), the Department of Justice was the defendant, not the plaintiff, and the employer accused of discrimination was the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.)

For anybody interested in the recent history of these cases, the Transgender Law Center has a four-page write-up here (pdf). They also call for the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to cancel out the possibility of an adverse Supreme Court ruling should any of these cases end up before the justices. I don't agree with the need for ENDA, but it's still good to take note of the background of these suits as transgender issues start getting more and more attention separately from the gay and lesbian community.

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  1. Can’t turn an X into a Y.

  2. Interesting that the story and the DoJ release are careful not to mention which department this prof was in.

    1. According to Rate My Professor: English.

      One of the comments:

      she is a good teacher but makes us do read books that the other classes with different proffessors don’t have to read. the other professors don’t have to read the three books we have to but she makes us read these books. I’m thinking that she’s giving us more work than is required for this class.

      1. OK, I suspected that it wasn’t molecular biology or physics. Love the illiterate comments on that site- they would have been very unhappy to be my students.

      2. Well, if that kid is anywhere near finished with her class, she doesn’t teach English worth a damn.

        1. Well, not to kids that don’t like her class. Might just be that she’s a good strict teacher and kids think English is supposed to be like basket weaving.

      3. I would think that an English teacher making the students read books would be a firing offense in a state university. Shouldn’t they be talking about their oppression and feelings instead of reading books by old and probably dead people?

  3. Feel free, Reason, to let us know when you think that the enforcement of positive rights, to the detriment of real rights, starts to bother you.

    1. RC, I bleeve this is a gov’t school, so any choice the school might have had is gone.
      He who pays the piper….

      1. The position they are taking applies equally to private businesses.

        1. In which case, you’d have a point. Not here.

  4. So you can’t fire crazy people?

    Or refuse them tenure?

    1. It depends on the type of crazy. If they are a politically favored type of crazy, you’re basically married to that employee. If they’re crazy as in not believing the leftist myths, then that’s a legitimate reason to fire.

      1. Probably economistically leaning crazy.

        1. It’s spelled “economystically”

    2. EMPLOYEE: “I have dangly bits, but I’m really a woman named Loretta.”

      HR: “Welcome aboard, contributor to diversity!”

      EMPLOYEE: “I may look naked to you, but in my own mind I’m wearing a suit and tie.”

      HR: “Uh…”

      EMPLOYEE: “And I have a lawyer.”

      HR: “You’re hired!”

      1. Truly if a transgender black woman came to me looking for a job, I wouldn’t hire he/she in a million fucking years. Not because I find such a person “yucky”, but because I wouldn’t hire anyone who has so much potential to ruin my business. There’s nothing more dangerous to your business than an aggrieved minority with the full backing of unjust laws.

        1. So you’re assuming they must be an “aggrieved minority?”

          1. Or you rightly assume they are batshit crazy.

          2. Is there any other kind?
            Let’s face it, everyone is “protected” except for the ones, who have never gone out and demonstrated or started riots – white, straight males.

  5. Let’s just criminalize hiring and firing altogether and let bureaucrats handle it, we’ll nationalize HR and then no one will be discriminated against for any reason, except when they’re members of politically disfavored groups. That’ll be so fair it hurts.

  6. “Presented” as a man then “presented” as a woman? Fuck this SJW terminology bullshit. You want to stick with that word? Fine he/she should have been fired for fraud.

    1. Very well. They consistently presented as gender-fluid.

      1. That is a fantastic oxymoron.

  7. My best friend’s mother-in-law makes $85 /hour on the internet . She has been out of work for 5 months but last month her pay was $16453 just working on the internet for a few hours.
    Visit this website ?????

  8. Monday they announced action because of this position, filing a lawsuit against Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the Regional University System of Oklahoma for violating Title VII. Here are the details from the DOJ

    Yet ONE more reason why the government has NO business managing so-called “public” colleges and universities. They’re nothing more than tax-paid job allocation programs for unconditional State worshipers, some of which change their sex.

  9. Wow, amending the law by administrative and judicial fiat is sure more efficient than going through Congress! If congress doesn’t add transgender status to the list of protected classes, judges and administrators can do Congress’s job!

    1. It isn’t clear to me that it is ” by administrative and judicial fiat”. Just because a law has implications or consequences that weren’t intended doesn’t mean you can ignore the law. Otherwise, you might as well do away with the law completely and resort to rule, whether by the king or the mob.

      1. Just because a law has implications or consequences that weren’t intended doesn’t mean you can ignore the law.

        That’s the point, though. “Sex” discrimination is one thing. “Gender” discrimination is something different. If you want outlaw gender discrimination, it should be done via statute, not via judicial or administrative “interpretation” of “sex discrimination” to cover something that is not sex discrimination.

        See also, the exclusion of commercial speech from the First Amendment, the exclusion of anything you don’t have an “expectation of privacy in” from the Fourth Amendment, the inclusion of “federal exchanges” in “Exchanges established by a State”, etc. ad nauseum. You get to a point where “interpretation” becomes “amendment”.

      2. How can you obey a law that has “implications or consequences that weren’t intended”?
        Laws are supposed to be written so that citizens can know that if they obey the strict interpretation of the written word they will be in compliance.
        By your reasoning laws, really, have no defined effect.

  10. Does anyone believe that in 1964 this was considered covered under this law?

  11. Does anyone believe that in 1964 this was considered covered under this law?

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