WASHINGTON, DC -- The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court here today against the Library of Congress on behalf of a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Army whose job offer was rescinded after she informed the organization that she was in the process of transitioning from male to female.
"After risking my life for more than 25 years for my country, I've been told I'm not worthy of the freedoms I worked so hard to protect," said Diane Schroer. "All I'm asking is to be judged by my abilities rather than my gender."
Schroer, 49, retired from the Army as a Colonel in 2004 after 25 years of distinguished service. As an Airborne Ranger qualified Special Forces officer, Schroer completed over 450 parachute jumps, received numerous decorations including the Defense Superior Service Medal, and was hand-picked to head up a classified national security operation.
After leaving the military, Schroer confronted feelings she had been dealing with her entire life, and after careful deliberation under the care of a doctor, decided to transition from a man to a woman. While still presenting as a man, Schroer applied for a position with the Library of Congress as the senior terrorism research analyst. Soon thereafter she was offered the job, which she accepted immediately. Prior to starting work, 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 presenting as a female. The future boss said nothing at the lunch to suggest that this would be a problem. But the following day, Schroer received a call from the future boss rescinding the offer, telling her that she wasn't a "good fit" for the Library of Congress.
"The Library of Congress clearly thought Schroer was the most qualified person for the job," said Sharon McGowan, a staff attorney with the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. "The notion that our government would reject the best candidate for a job simply because of her gender is not only patently unfair, but also blatantly illegal."
In legal papers filed today in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, the ACLU charges that the Library of Congress unlawfully refused to hire Schroer in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which protects against sex discrimination in the workplace. The lawsuit also claims that the Library's action violated Schroer's constitutional right to be free from discrimination, and violates the Library's own legal mandate to hire based only on merit.
"The government was perfectly happy to let Schroer risk life and limb to fight terrorism. Yet now that she's female, Schroer has been told that she's unfit even to research terrorism," said Art Spitzer, Legal Director of the ACLU of the National Capital Area. "No one should have to fear being passed over for a job simply because of his or her gender identity, but this case is especially shameful."
A copy of the complaint, a bio and photographs of Diane Schroer are available at www.aclu.org/caseprofiles.