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Justice Department sues Oklahoma university for transgender discrimination

Assistant professor Rachel Tudor denied promotion at Southeastern Oklahoma State University because of gender identity
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community waDIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images

Reuters –The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit on Monday against Southeastern Oklahoma State University, alleging the school discriminated against a transgender assistant professor.

The DOJ said it also sued the Regional University System of Oklahoma. The department said Rachel Tudor was denied a promotion because of her gender identity and retaliated against after she complained.

In the summer of 2007, Tudor notified Southeastern that she planned to transition from male to female and begin to present as a woman at work during the 2007-08 academic year, according to the DOJ's court filing.

Southeastern Oklahoma State University said in a statement it "is committed to diversity and equal employment opportunities.

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"The University is confident in its legal position and its adherence to all applicable employment laws," it said, adding it had been advised not to discuss specifics of the case.

The complaint said Tudor taught in the English department and was terminated from the university in 2011 after the school denied her tenure.

A lawyer for Tudor said it was the first time the university had denied an English professor's application for tenure and promotion after a favorable tenure recommendation from a promotion committee and the department chair.

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

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