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Twenty-Five Year Vanderbilt University Employee Files Federal Discrimination Lawsuit

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Sept. 30, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — A 25-year, dedicated and honored Vanderbilt University employee represented by Rubenfeld Law has filed a Federal discrimination and retaliation lawsuit (link here) against her employer, after a two year pattern of harassment and hostile behavior toward her following her medically-necessary transition from male to female. The suit notes the “stunning hypocrisy” by Vanderbilt which presents itself as a leader in support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and students.

Olivia Hill, a US Navy combat veteran, was an exemplary employee of the Vanderbilt Power Plant for a quarter of a century, never receiving disciplinary action or negative reviews, and during that time held nearly every job in the Plant; created all of the control graphics for it; helped write the  Procedures for each piece of equipment; and received numerous awards including the ‘Vanderbilt Chancellor Heart and Soul Award,’ for “going far beyond her job expectations while carrying out the spirit and mission of Vanderbilt in all they do.”

Miss Hill is the first and only employee of Vanderbilt to transition while working there.

Following Ms. Hill’s acknowledgement to her supervisors in 2018 of the medical need to transition, Ms. Hill was subjected to numerous instances of hateful, vulgar and egregious harassment.  Although she properly followed all ‘University channels,’ ultimately her plea for help was ignored – and SHE was put on involuntary leave, while none of the harassers were punished and she was subjected to continued retaliation.  

“Although it is clear Ms. Hill continues to love Vanderbilt, she was left with no option but to seek legal protection and restitution for all she has suffered and lost,” explained Abby Rubenfeld, Ms. Hill’s attorney. “The way Olivia was treated violates federal and state law – and is consistent with Vanderbilt’s own policies and public presentation as allegedly being a model of LGBTQI tolerance and inclusion — and is simply the height of hypocrisy as well as illegal under numerous laws and statutes cited in the lawsuit.”

Cision View original content:https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/twenty-five-year-vanderbilt-university-employee-files-federal-discrimination-lawsuit-301389197.html

SOURCE Rubenfeld Law Office PC


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NLLG Attorney Helps Win Landmark Appellate Decision on Employment Rights

Ruling protects the rights of transgender employees against discrimination in the workplace

OKLAHOMA CITY, Sept. 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — A federal court of appeals recently directed that a professor who was denied tenure and lost her job at a state university in Oklahoma due to her transgender status must be reinstated, with tenure, at the university. Brittany M. Novotny, an attorney at National Litigation Law Group (NLLG) in Oklahoma City, played a key role in the successful trial and appeal.

National Litigation Law Group - NLLG offers experienced and committed representation to consumers across the U.S. who need to defend legal actions brought against them by credit card and financial services companies. With in-house attorneys licensed in more than thirty-five states, and our network of legal affiliates, we are equipped to protect consumer rights in any jurisdiction. NLLG is committed to providing other innovative legal services to individuals and businesses. https://www.nationlit. (PRNewsfoto/National Litigation Law Group)

Novotny was a member of the trial team that helped win a jury verdict in 2017 for the professor, Dr. Rachel Tudor, and she also was instrumental in drafting the briefs to the Court of Appeals, along with attorneys Ezra Young from New York, and Marie Galindo from Texas. At the 2017 trial, a federal court jury in Oklahoma City found that Southeastern Oklahoma State University had discriminated against Dr. Tudor on the basis of her transgender status when they denied her tenure, which then resulted in Dr. Tudor losing her job at the University. Although the jury had found in Dr. Tudor’s favor and had awarded money damages, the trial judge denied her request to be reinstated with tenure at the University. The damages award was appealed by the University, and Dr. Tudor appealed the trial judge’s refusal to reinstate her with tenure.

The appellate decision in Dr. Tudor’s case was delayed while the U.S. Supreme Court considered a separate case, Bostock v. Clayton County , and whether discrimination against a transgender employee constituted discrimination on the basis of sex, which is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Last year the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the transgender employee on that question, setting the stage for a decision on Dr. Tudor’s appeal. On September 13, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit found in favor of Dr. Tudor, and further directed the trial judge to reinstate Dr. Tudor to her former position, with tenure, as Dr. Tudor had requested.

“It was a true team effort to help Dr. Tudor find justice in our federal court system,” Novotny stated. “I am honored to have played a role in affirming the rights of transgender Americans to have employment decisions made free from discrimination. Dr. Tudor won a tremendous victory at trial, but it was not complete with her being denied reinstatement. Even after the Supreme Court’s later decision in Bostock, Dr. Tudor’s reinstatement was not assured, so I was thrilled with the Court of Appeals’ unanimous decision in her favor.”

In ruling for Dr. Tudor, the Court of Appeals stated emphatically that, “it is established—and we cannot now question—that Dr. Tudor would have been granted tenure in 2009-10 absent the discrimination.”  In directing that Dr. Tudor should be reinstated with tenure, the Court of Appeals said they were “restoring Dr. Tudor to the position she would have been in had Southeastern not engaged in prohibited discrimination against her.”

National Litigation Law Group, the firm that employs Novotny, was founded in 2014, and has focused on representing consumer debtors against credit card companies and other unsecured creditors.  NLLG also represents clients in other types of litigation matters.  For more information about the recent appeal decision in favor of Dr. Tudor, you can contact Brittany Novotny at bnovotny@nationlit.com, or Mark Grossman, the chief executive officer of NLLG, at mgrossman@nationlit.com.

SOURCE National Litigation Law Group



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New Consumer Research Shows 1 in 4 Patients Concerned About Discrimination in Healthcare

Shared Traits Common Between Patients and Providers

PORTLAND, Ore.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–HealthSparq, a healthcare guidance and transparency company, today announced new consumer research on how discrimination shapes healthcare interactions and provider selection. The survey found one in four people are very or extremely concerned about discrimination in healthcare due to their race or the language they speak. These and other survey findings highlight the unique opportunity health plans have to address system inequities by helping patients find providers they trust.

Notable findings include:

  • Nearly half of people who identify as LGBTQ feel they have been discriminated against based on sexual orientation.
  • Among African Americans who have experienced discrimination, 77% feel it was due to their ethnicity or race.
  • Shared traits are extremely common between patients and providers: two-thirds of respondents reported having a doctor of the same gender. Shared race is also frequent.
  • When selecting providers, location and gender are more important when it comes to choosing a PCP, while specialization, experience, affiliation, and education/training are more important when choosing a specialist.

Discrimination not only impacts the care people seek, but being discriminated against drives them to take action. When faced with discrimination, 61% report switching providers, 21% discuss the discrimination with someone else at the provider’s office, and 7% change insurance coverage.

“Both data and personal stories continue to underscore that healthcare isn’t equitable in this country. Factors such as race, income, and zip code result in lower quality healthcare and outcomes,” said Mark Menton, General Manager of HealthSparq. “With this survey, we wanted to find out what’s most important for people in historically underrepresented groups as they navigate healthcare and choose providers. We found that people often seek providers they share traits with, like common language, gender and race. In fact, shared traits seem to be a powerful indicator of the patient-provider relationship. About half of consumers feel that having shared traits with their healthcare providers assures better care and more open discussion.”

The survey revealed what people look for when selecting care, which coupled with findings related to discrimination, present an opportunity to help connect patients with the providers they want most. In addition to shared traits, respondents reported a variety of characteristics important when researching providers or selecting a new provider, with quality of care at the top of the list, followed by education, ratings/reviews, specialization in age/condition, and treatment philosophy.

Six in ten respondents report using their health insurance plan’s website to gather information on providers, which underscores the important role health plans have in facilitating trusting relationships between patients and providers. By offering more robust provider information in their online directories, health plans can enable individuals to self-select a provider who they share traits with and can trust. While sharing more detailed provider information will not solve decades of unequal access to care and discrimination, it is one step in the right direction to improving access and outcomes.

To download the full report, visit: https://bit.ly/ProviderLikeMe

About HealthSparq

At HealthSparq, we help people make smarter healthcare choices by partnering with health plans to share cost and quality information about doctors, hospitals, medical services, and medications. Serving more than 80 million members across the country, we put people at the core of everything we do by conducting continuous usability testing, turning consumer research into product innovations, hosting industry panels featuring everyday people, and bringing human stories to the forefront through our #WTFix campaign. Using these insights, we create solutions to help people understand and navigate the healthcare system better than ever before.

Born inside a health plan in Portland, OR, we’ve been growing since our 2012 corporate founding. In 2021, we became part of Kyruus, the leader in provider search and scheduling solutions for health systems, to pursue a shared vision of connecting people to the right care. Contact us at HealthSparq.com or tweet us @HealthSparq.


Kara McCrudden

Aria Marketing for HealthSparq



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Studies Show Men Get Penalized for Not Holding to Masculine Norms in the Office

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer people face workplace discrimination.  When women behave in ways that don’t fit their gender stereotype they are viewed as less likable and ultimately less hirable.  Does that same hold true for men – be they heterosexual, hetero-flexible, openly gay or closeted at work?

Are men similarly penalized for straying from the strong masculine stereotype?  Yes – Simply being perceived as kind, mildly effeminate or otherwise not macho masculine or claim their feminism outlook they can have a similar discriminating result for male heterosexuals too.  Some characteristics in men that are perceived as effeminate are letting others know they stand with feminism, being a nice guy, displaying vulnerability, showing empathy toward others, expressing sadness and being modest.   These all sound like great behaviors right?   A study by the University of Surrey uncovered that just by the way someone appears and the sound of their voice, anyone, male or female can face being less likely to be hired, paid less, and not promoted. – regardless of the actual sexual orientation of the person.   This can be a problem at work for the person’s career and the advancement of the company because it discourages men from behaving in ways known to benefit their teams and productivity.

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Let break down the traits

Being a feminist or feminine.  A large number of American men self-identify as feminist. Disturbingly, research shows that feminist men are more likely to be the victims of sexual harassment — in the forms of being the recipient of unwanted sexual advances to being told inappropriate jokes. In addition, research shows that when they work in male-dominated jobs and are perceived as too feminine men are more likely to be harassedResearch finds that men who ask for family leave, are viewed as less competent workers and are far less likely to be recommended for rewards or promotion, compared to women who take family leave.

Being a nice guy – Generally, no one likes a hostile work environment.  No one wants to work with an overbearing offensive prick right?  So we’d assume that being nice at work would be a great thing.  Nope.  Research has found that men who are warm, supportive of others, caring of others and sympathetic toward others earned significantly less money than more stereotypically masculine men to the tune of an average of 18% less in income and were evaluated as less likely to have management potential as compared to less agreeable men.  These same “good guys” were evaluated as less competent and less hirable for managerial roles. One experimental study found that male managers in consulting who tended to advocate more for their team than for themselves were judged to be lower in agency and competence and more likely to be considered for job dismissal.  Being a nice guy at work doesn’t pay and can get put them in the hunt for a new job.  This is also supported by the University of Surrey study noted above.  This seems counterproductive for the individual, teams and company bottom line.

Showing vulnerability – Men from early childhood are often taught to “be a man” – don’t cry, don’t ask for help or otherwise demonstrate vulnerability.  A set of studies from 2015 finds that when male (but not female) leaders ask for help, they are viewed as less competent, capable, and confident.  And when men make themselves vulnerable by disclosing a weakness at work, they are perceived to have lower status.  Not seeking help when you need it or admitting areas for improvement inevitably leads to mistakes, less career development, non-functional teams, and reduces the success of the projects and overall company success.

Expressing sadness/crying – American men are brought up to be to be unemotional.  Research shows that men who show sadness at work are thought of as less deserving of that emotion as compared to sad women.  No one wants to get so upset and distraught at work to the point of crying.  But for men – it can really cost them.  A study from 2017 found that men who cry at work are perceived as more emotional and less competent than women who cry.  If a man cries in response to employee performance review, they are rated as a lower performer, less likely to get promoted, and less capable as compared to women who cry in that situation.  While we don’t want men or women regularly crying at work, an authentic work environment has to allow all employees to experience the same emotions equally without negative repercussion.

Being empathic – Empathy is an important part of being a great leader. However, women are more likely to receive “credit” for it than men. A recent study found that female leaders who displayed empathy were less likely to be in danger of career derailment. In fact, for women, it can help in their career.  Men, however, do not reap the same benefits — there was no relationship between a man’s leadership empathy and their manager considering that as a factor for advancement.  These findings are far-reaching because displaying empathy is critical for leading effectively.  Empathy impacts team and client/customer success and so company success.

Exhibiting modesty – “Dude, you are just being modest.”  Research demonstrates that men who are more humble in conveying their personal success and qualifications were evaluated as less likeable, less likely to succeed, and weaker than similarly qualified modest women. Similarly, men in the interview process men who had similar qualification as others yet were more modest were evaluated by potential employers as lower in skill and ability, and less desirable to hire. Women who displayed similar qualifications and also modest faired better in the job hunt.  With the increasing awareness of the detrimental effects of narcissism at work, we should encourage men’s modesty rather than penalize it.

Can Corporations Halt the Attack on Good Guys?

Companies have a huge benefit in changing the work culture and supporting positive male behaviors.  It supports individual career growth, improves team dynamics, gender equality and success and company performance.  So what can company and organization leaders do?

Be broad and inclusive when training about gender stereotypes. Diversity training often evokes skepticism from employees, especially men. One way to address this issue is to focus on how gender stereotypes about women and men impact expectations for how they should behave. Given that white men are more likely to feel defensive when organizations provide diversity training, highlighting how men and women are both victims of gender stereotypes can help invoke compassion from all trainees.

Do not “gender police.” Gender policing means imposing normative gender expressions in terms of behavior or appearance. Research shows that trying to make men adhere to gender norms, for example, in terms of attire, is detrimental in terms of allowing men to fully express themselves at work.  When people can be themselves, it creates a place that will attract and retain top talent.

Encourage male positive behaviors. It is important for company leadership to accept and encourage positive behavior to create a safe and welcoming workspace.  For example,  the hiring process is a great place to start.  In addition, given the many benefits of humility, companies and organization should create a culture where men who are humble are praised.  Perhaps setting a “Humble Hero” quarterly employee to recognize those that make do outstanding work yet aren’t shouting about it themselves.  Organizational leaders can champion men in the organization by telling stories about how their vulnerability helped the organization perform better.


Companies can greatly benefit from changing it’s work culture to support a contemporary view, acceptance, and express of masculinity while still maintaining traditional expressions of masculinity such as assertiveness, responsibility, and competitiveness allowing each person to be their full selves.  This will further support gender equality and everyone thrive.

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