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Report urges new law against gay bias in federal workplace

Workplace discrimination against federal employees based on sexual orientation has been against government’s policy since 1980, but the policy has not been interpreted uniformly, says a Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) report.

The report, which will be released at noon Wednesday, says legislation would make that prohibition explicit and allow federal employees to take discrimination cases to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.


(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Another MSPB recommendation says “agencies should review their management programs, policies, and procedures to ensure that they are inclusive and fair to all employees.”

The Washington Post obtained an advance copy of the document, which presents  a disturbing history of discrimination because of sexual orientation.

“Prior to 1975, Federal Government policy considered an individual’s sexual orientation when determining suitability for Federal employment,” MSBP reported. “Although we will never know the exact number of individuals who were denied employment or who had their employment terminated based on their actual or assumed sexual orientation, one estimate places this number between 7,000 and 10,000 in the 1950’s alone. It is impossible to determine the number of individuals who may not have sought Federal employment due to the knowledge that their sexual orientation made them ineligible for selection.”

MSPB said only about 1 percent of those responding to an agency survey in 2010 believed they had been discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. The report also noted, however, that  a 2012 survey by the Office of Personnel Management “found that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Federal employee perceptions of the workplace were generally less positive than other employees.”

 

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.

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