Judge Rules Against LOC in Transsexual Discrimination Case

Posted September 19, 2008 at 5:58pm

A federal judge ruled Friday that the Library of Congress violated discrimination law when it denied a job to a male-to-female transsexual.

Diane Schroer — then David John Schroer — applied for a job as a senior terrorism researcher in June 2005, and, according Schroer, LOC officials offered her the position and introduced her to future colleagues as a new hire.

But after receiving the offer, she told LOC officials that she was transitioning to female. A day later, the LOC rescinded the offer.

On Friday, U.S District Judge James Robertson ruled that the Library refused to hire Schroer “because her appearance and background did not comport with the decisionmaker’s sex stereotypes about how men and women should act and appear.”

The court’s clerk will schedule a conference to discuss any possible damages assessed against the Library.

In his opinion, Robertson noted that Schroer received the highest interview score of all the candidates and that she was told she was “significantly better than the other candidates.” In addition to earning a high score, Schroer brought a résumé that showed two decades in the Army, including a stint as a Special Forces officer specializing in terrorism.

“Ultimately, I do not think that it matters for purposes of Title VII liability whether the Library withdrew its offer of employment because it perceived Schroer to be an insufficiently masculine man, an insufficiently feminine woman, or an inherently gender-nonconforming Transsexual,” Robertson wrote.

How this decision will affect the Library is unclear. However, House Administration Chairman Robert Brady (D-Pa.) issued a statement Friday calling for policy changes at the LOC.

“I applaud the Court’s decision, which should serve as a wake-up call to organizations that fail to include gender identity in their employee non-discrimination policies,” Brady said. “The Library of Congress should develop and implement immediate revisions to its existing policies to reflect the findings of this case, in addition to reaching a fair accommodation with Ms. Schroer.”