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U.S. Dept. of Labor Responds to Discrimination Complaint

Lesbian Employee's Reassignment
Under Investigation


Supervisor's Threats
Reportedly Motivated by Bias

Compiled by Badpuppy's GayToday
From U.S. Office of Special Counsel Reports

top814.gif - 20.01 KThe United States Office of Special Counsel (OSC) announced Wednesday that, in response to its request, the Department of Labor (DOL) will stay the geographic reassignment of a lesbian employee for 60 days.

The delay will allow OSC to investigate her complaint that the reassignment was motivated by discrimination based upon sexual orientation.

For the past 18 months, the employee, a manager in a Department of Labor division in the Midwest, has been caring for her female partner of 18 years, who has been undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

According to the employee, her supervisor threatened to reassign her from her position if she continued to request leave to provide such care, and denied her the benefit of temporarily working out of her home to assist in her partner's recuperation. The employee asserts that heterosexual couples with similar family and medical needs were granted such accommodations.

In June, less than two weeks before her partner was scheduled to undergo an additional cancer-related surgery, the employee was notified that she would be permanently reassigned to another DOL office nearly 400 miles away on July 6. Although she was granted a temporary six week delay in the reassignment, her hardship request for recission of the reassignment was denied.

The employee filed a complaint with OSC, alleging that her reassignment and the denial of flexiplace benefits were motivated by discrimination based upon sexual orientation, in violation of 5 U.S.C. 2302(b)(10). That provision makes it a prohibited personnel practice to "discriminate . . . on the basis of conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the employee. . ."

Special Counsel Elaine Kaplan praised DOL's voluntary agreement to postpone the reassignment for 60 days while OSC conducts an investigation. "DOL's quick response to OSC's request reflects admirable sensitivity to this employee's family situation" as well as "a helpful spirit of cooperation with OSC in its effort to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation of her complaint."

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel provides an independent avenue to protect merit systems principles in federal employment. OSC receives, investigates and prosecutes before the Merit Systems Protection Board, charges concerning the commission of prohibited personnel practices, with priority given to protecting whistleblowers. In addition, the Office provides a secure channel for federal workers to disclose information regarding legal violations, gross mismanagement, fraud, waste and abuse.


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