Tico Almeida, WI 98 Selected as 2016 Stevens Award Winner

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Founder and President, Freedom to Work

Tico Almeida (WI 98) received the Truman Foundation's 2016 Joseph E. Stevens, Jr. Award in recognition of his significant contributions to public service as a lawyer in June 2016. The ceremony will take place at the United States Supreme Court in June 2016 during the opening week of Summer Institute. 

Tico Almeida launched Freedom to Work in 2011.  He has extensive experience advocating for workplace fairness as a civil rights litigator and a legislative attorney in the U.S. Congress. While working on Capitol Hill, Almeida drafted fully inclusive legislation to ban LGBT workplace discrimination, and he helped organize the first-ever Congressional Committee hearing focused specifically on discrimination against transgender Americans. He later played a national leadership role in the 2013 campaign to pass federal LGBT workplace protections through the U.S. Senate by a vote of 64-32 with a historic 10 Republican Senators voting in favor of LGBT fairness.

As a litigator, Mr. Almeida was the legal strategist behind the landmark LGBT lawsuit, Freedom to Work vs. ExxonMobil, and he has been a leading proponent of LGBT advocates and organizations using matched-pair testing to uncover discrimination in jobs, housing, and credit.  Almeida also teamed with LAMBDA LEGAL to bring a successful Title VII lawsuit on behalf of a transgender woman who suffered a hostile work environment in which she was regularly subjected to verbal and physical assaults.  This case led to the first-ever “cause determination” letter by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission finding that the discriminatory employer had violated Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination by discriminating against a transgender employee.  Freedom to Work and Lambda Legal successfully settled the case.

Mr. Almeida also led a successful national campaign to persuade President Obama to sign a historic executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT Americans.  Freedom to Work’s online petition reached 200,000 signatures – more than that of any LGBT organization advocating for this executive order.  Freedom to Work also presented the Obama Administration with compelling evidence of discrimination against LGBT contractors:  A year-long matched-pair resume study by Freedom to Work and the Equal Rights Center found that LGBT job applicants were 23 percent less likely to be called back for interviews with federal contractors when compared with similar — but less qualified — non-LGBT applicants.

Mr. Almeida has provided media commentary on LGBT legal protections to publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, Huffington Post including Latino Voices, BuzzFeed, The Hill, Reuters, The Advocate, Washington Blade, TowleRoad, MetroWeekly, and the Michelangelo Signorile Show on Sirius XM Satellite Radio.  He has also appeared on national television news networks including MSNBC, CBS News, CNN, and Fox News.

The Stevens Award was established in 1999 to recognize a Truman Scholar who is an attorney and has made significant contributions to public service and to the Truman community. It honors Joseph E. Stevens, Jr., a former President of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation Board of Trustees. Judge Stevens served as a Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri from 1981 - 1995. He served as Chief Judge of the District from 1992 - 1995 and as President of the Missouri Bar Association from 1980-81. 

Mr. Almeida received his J.D. from Yale Law School and his B.A. from Duke University.  He previously worked as an attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), and clerked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.  He has served as Chairman of the Employment and Labor Law Section of the Hispanic National Bar Association, and the National LGBT Bar Association has named him to its list of the Top 40 LGBT Lawyers Under the Age of 40.