NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A transgender woman has filed a discrimination lawsuit against her longtime employer Vanderbilt University.
Olivia Hill – a 25-year employee of the university and Navy veteran – filed the suit, which claims that she was subjected to an “egregious pattern of discrimination, harassment and retaliation against her” following her transition.
“That discriminatory treatment of Ms. Hill, the first employee at Vanderbilt to transition while an employee, also demonstrates stunning hypocrisy by Vanderbilt in violating it’s own highly publicized 'policies' alleging support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees,” the lawsuit alleged.
The lawsuit said Hill was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 2017, and her physician recommended that she begin living as a woman and receive medical treatment to transition to female.
Hill alleged that in 2018, she learned that her direct supervisor had used “terrible slurs to describe her, such as ‘it,’ ‘trans freak,’ and ‘weirdo,’” while discussing her transition with other employees and contractors.
Hill said she asked his supervisor to address it but alleges that person never did because he “did not know how.”
Additionally, the lawsuit alleged that Vanderbilt failed to provide a women’s restroom in her building, forcing her to walk to another one.
Hill also claimed she was passed over for a promotion, despite being qualified for it, and that her job was “suddenly” reclassified and her salary was cut by $40,000 per-year.
The lawsuit said Hill was placed on administrative leave with pay in December 2019. She filed a formal discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on September 25, 2020.
Vanderbilt University provided the following statement to NewsChannel 5 in response to the suit:
“Being recognized and accepted for who we are is essential to Vanderbilt’s teaching and learning mission.
We have taken intentional steps to help our employees feel respected, included and safe in their work environments, including providing resources for employees who identify as transgender, genderqueer or non-binary, as well as the managers who support them.
Among the resources available is information on topics such as confidentiality and privacy, names and pronoun use, and support for employees who are transitioning.
We take complaints to the university seriously as we continue to move forward in our commitment to foster an inclusive community.
As a rule we generally do not discuss details of employment or pending legal matters in order to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.”