Thursday, October 23, 2014

Transgender Federal Employee Wins Major Discrimination Case

Tamara Lusardi
Here in Virginia, gays and transgender Virginians have ZERO non-discrimination protections under state law.  While we can now legally marry, we can nonetheless be fired from our jobs at will and face discrimination in housing and other realms.   At the federal level things aren't much better except now federal employees and employees of federal contractors are being held to non-discrimination requirements.  Today, a major victory was won by a transgender federal employee who had faced discrimination and harassment.  It goes without saying that the Christofascists will be hyperventilating and let out spittle flecked rants that they have now lost the right to discriminate in federal employment situations.  Here are details on the case from the Washington Post:

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel on Thursday announced a landmark determination that the Department of the Army engaged in “frequent, pervasive and humiliating,” gender-identity discrimination against Tamara Lusardi, a veteran and civilian Army software specialist who transitioned from male to female.

Lusardi was working in the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (“AMRDEC”) in Redstone, Ala., when she transitioned from male to female in 2010. During that time, the Army improperly restricted her restroom usage, referred to her with male pronouns and by her birth name and stopped giving her work, the OSC said in a report released Thursday.

In a telephone interview from Alabama, Lusardi, 49, who served in the Army from 1986 to 1993, including in Desert Storm, said she was called “sir” and “it” by co-workers and management after she legally changed her name, driver’s license and security clearance and began dressing as a woman.   Lusardi was also required to use a single-user, gender-neutral restroom, out of concerns that other employees might feel “uncomfortable” sharing a restroom with her.

The OSC, a federal investigative and prosecutorial agency, said that coworker preferences alone “cannot justify discriminatory working conditions,” since it could reinforce the very stereotypes and biases that nondiscrimination laws are intended to protect against. According to the report, Lusardi should be able to use bathrooms designated for her gender identity.

The case is part of a broader push by the federal government and the OSC to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees in the government.

In July, Obama signed an executive order banning workplace discrimination against millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors and the federal government. The executive order prohibits firing or harassment of federal contractors based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and it bans discrimination against transgender employees of the federal government.
In response, the Army agreed to provide training to correct and prevent future discrimination, the OSC said. It also now permits Lusardi to use the restroom associated with her gender identity.

The Army did not respond to further requests for comment, but it agreed to the OSC’s recommendation to provide workplace diversity and sensitivity training, with a specific focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues.

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