Transgender professor successful in discrimination case

While California has laws that protect transgender people in the workplace, this is not true in every state. However, in one case, a court awarded a professor $1.1 million after she was denied a promotion and tenure following her transition.

The professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University was hired in 2004 for the tenure track. In 2007, she began transitioning. She was open about her transition, and someone on the human resources staff phoned her to tell her that the vice president for academic affairs had explored firing her. He felt her transition clashed with his religious beliefs. His sister was the director of the counseling center, and she warned the professor that she should take precautions because some people disliked transgender people. She also said the professor offended her brother from a religious standpoint.

The lawsuit says the professor’s 2009 application for promotion and granting of tenure was denied although a male colleague with similar qualifications was approved. The dean and vice president for academic affairs would not provide a reason for the denial, and she filed a federal complaint about discrimination in 2010. On Nov. 20, a jury agreed that she was denied tenure and the opportunity to reapply the following year because of her gender. The jury also agreed that she had faced retaliation.

People who believe they are facing any type of workplace discrimination might want to talk to an attorney. Race, age, religious and disability discrimination are some of the types of prohibited discrimination. An attorney may be able to explain an employee’s rights and how to proceed with reporting the discrimination in the workplace. For example, the attorney might suggest that the employee document all instances of discrimination. If the employee’s workplace does not take action to stop the discrimination, the employee might want to file a lawsuit.

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