Friday, October 1, 2021

This New York City litigator advocates for transgender rights and is teaching other lawyers how to do it, too

OCTOBER 1, 2021, 1:40 AM CDT

As corporate America continues to publicly display the rainbow motif to promote its recognition of LGBTQ rights, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing at Weiss Law. Founded by Jillian T. Weiss, the three-lawyer, Brooklyn-based firm specializes in enforcing the civil rights of transgender people, especially in the area of employment law—and the fight is far from over.

Luckily, Weiss is uniquely prepared to lead the charge: She co-authored Gender Identity and the Law, the first law school casebook on the subject. She also founded the National Trans Bar Association, and she served as executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. Weiss helped litigate the first cases brought by the EEOC and the Department of Justice on behalf of transgender employees and has drafted transgender-friendly workplace policies for major corporations like Boeing—all after spending more than a decade as a college professor (she holds a PhD in law, policy and society). For Weiss, the fight isn’t just professional; it’s also personal. Weiss transitioned to living as female in the late ’90s and has faced many of the same types of discrimination that her clients continue to endure today.

Q. Did you always want to be a lawyer—to be an advocate?

A. No, I actually wanted to be a teacher.

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Monday, September 20, 2021

Judge Allows Gay Social Worker's Bias Suit to Proceed

U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla let stand a social worker's hostile work environment claim under the NYCHRL, which the judge noted has a looser standard of review than its state or federal counterparts, as well as his claims of termination because of sexual orientation under federal, state and city law. However, the judge dismissed his claims of unlawful retaliation for making complaints.

The judge also dismissed claims alleging that he was subjected to a hostile work environment in violation of Title VII and the New York State Human Rights Law. 
Attorney Jillian Weiss, representing the plaintiff, said "While federal law stands idly by except for the  most obvious hostility in the workplace, New York state and city law refuse to allow their workers to be treated differently because of who they are." 
Weiss noted that the New York State Human Rights Law has since changed to provide more robust protections. 

Judge Failla concluded that his supervisor's conduct, "even if occasionally insulting or even demeaning," didn't involve physical threats to Barney, was "not particularly severe," didn't create an abusive environment or meaningfully interfere with his work.


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Transgender professor ordered reinstated with tenure at university in Oklahoma by federal court

A panel of three federal judges determined Rachel Tudor deserves her old job as a tenured-track professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

Sept. 14, 2021, 8:15 PM EDT
By Antonio Planas
NBC News

A transgender professor who was denied a promotion more than a decade ago must be reinstated with tenure at Southeastern Oklahoma State University because the school discriminated against her, a federal court ruled this week.

"Dr. Tudor 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," her attorney, Jillian T. Weiss, said in a statement.

"As injurious as the sex discrimination and retaliation were to Dr. Tudor, she did not consider it merely personal. Rather, she was a symbol to those who discriminated against her,” the statement read. “They wanted to create an environment where certain views and certain people are punished to create fear and shame instead of self-confidence and opportunity for all. They wanted people like Dr. Tudor to be afraid, and to go away. Instead of going away, instead of accepting a settlement — conditioned on never teaching in Oklahoma — she fought for the rights and dignity of her Native and LGBT communities.”

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Friday, June 11, 2021

NYSBA Member Spotlight: Jacqueline J. Drohan

Who are your heroes in the legal world?

There are many! Judge Roselyn Richter was legal writing professor my law School and watching her career has influenced me greatly. She has overcome many obstacles and societal barriers to become Associate Justice of the New York State Appellate Division. Likewise, the late Judge Deborah Batts. She was the first openly gay African American female federal district court judge. 

"As a practitioner, Jillian Weiss has been both model and mentor to me at many levels. "

She is a superbly competent advocate and has been a fearless voice at the national level for the civil rights of transgender and other LGBTQ employees, and our community generally.

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Friday, May 21, 2021

T-Mobile Case Shows Transgender Workers Can Sue for Sex Discrimination—But With Burdens

by Angela Morris
The Texas Lawyer

Weiss, the plaintiff’s attorney, said that she is pleased the Fifth Circuit acknowledged that LGBTQ workers are protected under Title VII, but disappointed that the court didn’t scrutinize further whether Olivarez needed to allege facts about comparative employees.

“Every other circuit and even some Fifth Circuit panels have said a comparator is not strictly required,” explained Weiss, who did not represent Olivarez in the trial court but was hired for the appeal. “The Fifth Circuit has ben very narrowly adhering to that as a requirement and all the other circuits have said you don’t absolutely need that. If you have it, it is great; if you have other facts that show discrimination, that is fine too.”

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Saturday, May 8, 2021

A Sense of Belonging

The ruling was significant because many employers weren't certain what constitutes discrimination and often failed to give these complaints proper scrutiny, explains attorneyJillian Weiss, whose New York City law firm specializes in representing transgender clients in discrimination cases.

"Now that we have Bostock, this has become like any workplace discrimination issue—you have two sides and you try to figure out what happens," she says. "But the idea that you're just not providing protection to these people is gone."

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Saturday, March 6, 2021

Transgender teacher claims discrimination at NYC’s Speyer Legacy School

She was hired to diversify a “progressive” private school, but a transgender teacher claims she faced months of rampant discrimination — culminating in a witchhunt by parents who claimed she was endangering kids in school bathrooms.

In a lawsuit, the educator says her time at Speyer Legacy School, which was co-founded by Harry Belafonte’s daughter-in-law and costs $54,000 a year, was a “living nightmare” of discrimination.

“Her goal is to ensure that no other transgender teachers at that school, or any school, will have to endure the emotional distress of giving their all for the children while being subjected to harassment for being true to themselves,” said Daniels’ attorney, Jillian Weiss.

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