Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Trial starts in LoC transgender discrimination case

A long-awaited trial began today here in D.C. in Schroer v. Library of Congress, a major case testing federal protections for transgender workers. Diane Schroer was offered a job as a counterterrorism expert, only to have that job offer withdrawn when it was revealed the she is a trans woman.

From hunter of justice:

The mere fact that the case is going to trial is important. Most employment discrimination cases settle if they survive summary judgment. Judge Robertson has denied two motions to dismiss and a summary judgment motion, rejecting the government's arguments that transgender persons are not covered under Title VII. [All three opinions plus motions and responses are available here.] Given "the factual complexities that underlie human sexual identity," the court reserved a decision on whether transgender discrimination is a subset of sex discrimination until it heard more evidence on the nature of gender and gender identity.

This should be one fascinating trial. The ACLU LGBT Rights Project represents Schroer; trial counsel will be James Esseks, Sharon McGowan and Ken Choe, all ACLU staff attorneys.
Lots of background on the case is at Transgender Workplace Diversity. As Jillian Weiss points out there, Judge Robertson's decisions in this case signal progress in recognizing protection for trans workers, but leave a lot of unanswered questions and room for confusion. I wish I could skip work to go observe the trial.

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