Library of Congress Ordered to Pay in Discrimination Suit

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 29, 2009; 10:29 AM

A federal judge yesterday awarded a former special forces commander $491,190 in back pay and damages because officials with the Library of Congress discriminated against her when they rescinded a job offer after learning she was transitioning from being a man to being a woman.

The decision came in a lawsuit filed in 2005 by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Diane Schroer. U.S. District Judge James Robertson ruled in September that officials had discriminated against Schroer, who was denied a job as a terrorism research analyst with the Library of Congress's Congressional Research Service. Robertson ordered the Library of Congress to pay Schroer $183,653 in back pay and $307,537.80 in damages.

"She experienced the emotional pain and suffering of losing her dream job merely because she was a transsexual," Robertson wrote.

Schroer is a U.S. Army colonel who retired in 2004. She worked briefly in the private sector and then applied for a job at the Library of Congress as a man, David.

"She was well qualified for the job," Robertson wrote in a September ruling, adding that Schroer received the highest interview score of 18 candidates. Schroer was offered the job in December 2004 as she was going through the transition to become a woman. Before starting the job, she had lunch with the woman she thought would be her future boss.

Schroer then disclosed she was becoming a woman. The job offer was rescinded the next day. An official at the Library of Congress testified at a hearing that she pulled the offer because there was concerned Schroer would not receive a timely security clearance. Robertson rejected that excuse.

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