Transgender woman awarded $1.1 million in discrimination case

Tennessee residents might be interested in learning that a transgender professor has won a $1.1 million verdict award for gender discrimination. The professor was hired by Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 2004 in a tenure-track position as an assistant English professor while she was still presenting as a man.

The professor began transitioning to female in 2007 and notified the university that she would be presenting as a woman during the coming school year. She was told by a staff person in the human resources department that the university's vice president for academic affairs was offended by transgender people because of his religious beliefs.

Later, the vice president's sister told the professor that she should be careful and again repeated that her brother's religious beliefs were deeply offended by transgenderism. The professor applied for an associate professor position and tenure in October 2009. The university turned her down and hired a male coworker instead. The woman sued, alleging gender discrimination. A federal jury returned a $1.1 million verdict in favor of the professor, finding that she was the victim of gender discrimination based on her transgender status.

Workplace discrimination that is based on the protected status of people is illegal under federal law. Employers may not discriminate against their employees based on their sex, gender, national origin, race, color, religion or disability. People who believe that they have been the victims of unlawful employment discrimination based on their protected statuses might want to consult with experienced employment lawyers in order to see what the next step should be. This could include initiating the action by the filing of a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Source: NBC News, "Jury awards transgender professor $1.1 million in discrimination case", John Brammer, Nov. 21, 2017

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