U.S. Office of Special Counsel Rules in Favor of Transgender Woman in Discrimination Case
Sable Liggera '17 Assistant News Editor
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel released its decision regarding the case of Tamara Lusardi, a transgender federal employee who filed a complaint to the OSC on the grounds of discrimination, on Oct. 23.
After Lusardi, a software quality assurance specialist at the Army Aviation and Missile Research and Engineering Center, announced to her supervisor her intentions to change her name and begin transitioning, she noted to OSC that the office then began to greatly lessen her workload and eventually stopped giving her work. She was also required to use a gender-neutral bathroom, after claims were made that she was making other workers “uncomfortable.”
Lusardi also reported that some of her fellow workers intentionally continued to call her by her male birth name and used incorrect pronouns, ranging from “he” to “it.” She was also told to stop discussing her transition with her fellow employees.
In an interview to the Washington Post, Lusardi commented, “I really care about my job, and I really wanted to be professional, but people were saying, ‘Is it Todd or Tamara, I don’t know,’ and smirking at me, even after I had sent an email explaining my transition. I just wanted to crawl under the table.”
Lusardi initially filed the complaint in 2012, however, in was only last Thursday that the OSC officially ruled in her favor, releasing a report classifying the army’s treatment of her as discriminatory.
According to the report released by the OSC, “[R]eviewing the totality of the circumstances, OSC finds that the acts at issue were sufficiently frequent, pervasive, and humiliating to constitute discriminatory harassment.”
As a result of the case, the Army has agreed to provide its workers with workplace sensitivity training specifically focused on LGBTQ issues; this training is designed to prevent future cases of discrimination. Lusardi is also now allowed to use the women’s bathroom and has reported that the Army has begun giving her back her workload.
She stated, “I hope my case and this decision will help other transgender people feel safe enough to bring their full authentic selves to work. This report makes clear that we don’t have to put up with being mistreated on the job just because of who we are.”