An American university has been ordered to rehire a professor who was previously fired for being transgender.
Dr Rachel Tudor was let go from her role at Southeastern Oklahoma State University 10 years ago because of the Vice President for Academic Affairs allegedly being offended by her “lifestyle”.
Tudor worked at the school since 2004, before coming out as transgender three years later.
A study from The Williams Institute suggests that Tudor’s experience is not a rare one, as almost 50% of all trans workers have been fired or not hired at all because of how they identify.
She was denied tenure in 2009, despite getting a four to one vote in her favour from the university’s faculty committee.
As a result of not receiving this, Tudor was let go from the university which resulted in the Department of Justice (DOJ) suing the Southeastern Oklahoma State on the professor’s behalf in 2015.
The DOJ alleged that the university violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by dismissing her, which was followed by The Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling that the legislation (which typically applies to sex discrimination) also prohibits cases of LGBTQ+ bias in the workplace.
The DOJ settled with the university in 2017 after the election of Donald Trump, but Tudor persisted with the lawsuit which led to a jury for the US District for the Western District of Oklahoma ruling in her favour later that year.
The professor was granted over one million dollars in damages, which was eventually reduced to $300,000.
Despite the ruling from the lower court that Tudor had suffered discrimination at the hands of the university, it did not order the institution to rehire her due to hostility between the two that had come about because of the legal proceedings.
However, this decision was overturned by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on 13 September in a 57-page ruling.
The university was ordered to give Tudor her job back as despite the animosity between the two parties, “the hostility must be extreme to defeat the preference for reinstatement.”
The three-judge panel unanimously agreed that the decision to give Tudor her job back had to be measured by her ability to work at the university, not whether or not she gets along with her employer.
They suggested that she be given a new supervisor or an office in a different location to the university, something which should not be much issue as most of the discriminatory colleagues no longer work at the Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
Tudor has also frequently expressed a desire to return to her old role, something which simplified the ruling as it shows she is prepared to return to the environment.
“Courts must start with the strong preference for reinstatement,” the ruling explained, “and then ask if the defendant has overcome this presumption by establishing the existence of extreme hostility between the parties.”
As well as the $300,000 in damages Tudor was previously awarded, the court ruled that she should be given roughly $60,000 in lost income to make up for the time she was unemployed.
Tudor gave a statement to TulsaWorld, explaining that she is “looking forward to being the first tenured Native American professor in her department in the 100-plus year history of the Native American-serving institution that is Southeastern Oklahoma State University.”
University President Thomas Newsom declined the opportunity to comment on the ruling to TulsaWorld “due to pending litigation”.