Cohen & Gresser Achieves Significant Pro Bono Victory on Behalf of the National Women’s Law Center
September 15, 2021
Cohen & Gresser achieved a significant pro bono victory before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit on behalf of the National Women's Law Center ("NWLC") as an amicus in the case of Dr. Rachel Tudor, a professor in the English, Humanities, and Languages Department, of the Southeastern Oklahoma State University. Dr. Tudor is transgender and was explicitly denied tenure and fired by the University when she transitioned from male to female. The appeals court ordered the district court to reinstate her to a tenure position and correctly recalculate her front pay damages award. While Dr. Tudor had won at trial, she was denied reinstatement by the district judge. The Tenth Circuit embraced the arguments made in NWLC's amicus brief and found that the district court improperly concluded reinstatement would not be possible due to alleged hostility between Dr. Tudor and Southeastern. Instead, because of the legal presumption in favor of reinstatement and the particularly low risk of extreme hostility between the parties here, the court reversed and ordered that Dr. Tudor be reinstated at the University with tenure. The Tenth Circuit also rejected Southeastern's cross-appeal in its entirety, relying heavily on the Supreme Court's decision in Bostock v. Clayton County, No. 17-1618, 590 U.S. ___ (2020), which overruled previous Tenth Circuit precedent and held that discrimination against transgender employees is sex discrimination under Title VII. Notably, Cohen & Gresser also represented the NWLC and dozens of other non-profit organizations in drafting and filing their Supreme Court amicus brief in Bostock. Melissa Maxman led a team from Cohen & Gresser’s Washington D.C. office in advising the NWLC.