Something of great significance to the GLBTQ community happened yesterday, something that’s never happened before, that’s long overdue, that will impact on future generations.
No, I’m not talking about Rachel Maddow, thrilled though I am about the first-ever out lesbian to land her own U.S. prime-time news show.
I’m talking about a landmarkemployment discrimination case:
A transgender job bias suit against the Library of Congress moves to
trial Tuesday in federal court in Washington, D.C., with potentially
major implications for federal anti-discrimination policy.
U.S. District Judge James Robertson will preside over the bench trial inSchroer v. Billington,
No. 05-1090, in which retired, decorated Army Colonel Diane Schroer
contends that the library violated the federal law’s ban on sex
discrimination in employment practices.
The library, she charges in a suit brought by theAmerican Civil Liberties Union,
rescinded a job offer that Schroer had accepted after her disclosure to
her future supervisor that she was in the process of transitioning from
a male to a female.
In the fall of 2004, Colonel Schroer applied
for a position as a terrorism research analyst with the Congressional Research
Service (CRS) of the Library of Congress. At that point in time, Colonel Schroer, retired after 25 years of distinguished service in the Army, was a biological male, using a male name, who went to the interview in men’s clothing. An offer of employment was made to Schroer not long after the interview. Following salary negotiations, Schroer accepted the position. Prior to starting the job but after being hired, Schroer disclosed to her supervisor her plans for transition. Literally overnight, she was fired.
Schroer talks about her background, credentials and the then-pending case in the video below. NOTE this video is not from yesterday’s proceedings. It was taken June 26, when the House of Representatives held the first-ever Congressional
Hearing on transgender issues: “An Examination of Discrimination
Against Transgender Americans in the Workplace,” chaired by Congressman Rob
Andrews (D-NJ) of the Health, Education,
Labor, and Pensions (HELP) subcommittee of the Committee on Education
and Labor. (Schroer’s comments begin at the 3:33 mark)
I encourage you to watch all the videos on theNCTEquality page. It was indeed an historic occasion. Rep. Andrews is especially impressive.
More on the legal significance of Schroer’s case fromLaw.com:
“This is potentially very significant, partly because the case is
against the federal government, which could impact federal employment
policy and people all over the country,” said employment discrimination
of New York Law School. “It also is addressing an emerging issue as to
whether people whose gender identity differs from the norm would be
protected by the law’s provisions against sex discrimination.”
Twelve states and the District of Columbia have laws specifically
banning workplace discrimination based on gender identity. But courts
have moved slowly to recognize protection under the major federal job
bias law — Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Until recently,
federal courts have held there is no protection. Buta 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling
has led some federal courts to begin to hold that, under some
circumstances, Title VII may protect transgender people who are
discriminated against because they do not conform to gender stereotypes.
In an earlier ruling denying the government’s motion to dismiss the
Schroer suit, Robertsonheld that Schroer could proceed with her Title
VII sex stereotyping claim, but he left unresolved whether gender
identity discrimination alone violates Title VII’s plain language.
More later on Schroer’s case, as it develops.
UPDATED. The ACLU blog just put up another great post with details from the first day of testimony.