WASHINGTON, November 28, 2007 (ACLU)
– Rejecting the federal government’s attempt to throw out a transgender
veteran’s sex discrimination lawsuit against the Library of Congress, a
federal judge ruled today that the case can go forward.
The American Civil Liberties Union
brought the lawsuit in June 2005 on behalf of 25-year U.S. Army veteran
Diane Schroer who was offered a job as a senior terrorism researcher but was
later told she was not a “good fit” after her future boss learned she was in
the process of transitioning from male to female.
“After putting my life on the line
for my country for 25 years, I couldn’t believe that I could be refused a
job that I was told I was the most qualified for solely because I happened
to be transgender,” said Diane Schroer, a former U.S. Army Special Forces
Officer who specialized in fighting terrorism.
“But today’s decision makes me
proud that I served a country that values equality and fairness.”
After retiring from the military,
Ms. Schroer, who had been hand-picked to head up a classified national
security operation while serving as an Airborne Ranger qualified Special
Forces officer, applied for a position with the Library of Congress as the
senior terrorism research analyst.
Soon after she was offered the job,
which she accepted immediately.
Prior to starting work, Ms. Schroer
took her future boss to lunch to explain that she was in the process of
transitioning and thought it would be easier for everyone if she simply
started work as female.
The following day, Ms. Schroer received
a call from her future boss rescinding the offer, telling her that she
wasn’t a “good fit” for the Library of Congress.
In its motion to dismiss, the
government argued that Title VII, which protects against sex discrimination,
does not protect transgender workers.
The court rejected this argument,
ruling that the fact that Ms. Schroer is transgender does not bar her from
bringing a sex stereotyping claim.
The court said: “Title VII is
violated when an employer discriminates against any employee, transsexual or
not, because he or she has failed to act or appear sufficiently masculine or
feminine enough for an employe.” the court ruled
“Today the court sent a very clear
message that employers can be held liable when they make decisions about
whom to hire based on stereotypical views about gender as opposed to merit,”
said Sharon McGowan, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual
“Employers, including the
government, are now on notice that discriminating against transgender
workers may land them in court.”
The court put off for a later day
the question of whether Title VII’s ban against sex discrimination also bans
discrimination based on gender identity.
However, the court did reject the
government’s contention that laws barring sex discrimination are limited to
a person’s chromosomal configuration.
The court explained: “It is
well-established that, as a legal concept, ‘sex’ as used in Title VII refers
to much more than which chromosomes a person has.”
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Posted: 29 November 2007 at
00:00 (UK time)