Three months after President Obama signed an order protecting federal employees and contractors from discrimination based on their sexual identity and sexual orientation, the Office of Special Counsel announced on Thursday that it had obtained “corrective action” by the Army for the service’s discrimination against a transgender civilian employee.
In an unusual instance in which the subject is willing to be identified after the case’s resolution, Tamara Lusardi, an Army quality assurance specialist, was found by a special counsel probe to have experienced “a significant change in working conditions” after she disclosed her transition from male to female.
“The Army improperly restricted her restroom usage, repeatedly referred to her by her birth name and male pronouns, and excessively monitored her conversations with coworkers,” OSC determined. “The acts at issue were sufficiently frequent, pervasive, and humiliating to constitute discriminatory harassment . . . Lusardi experienced these effects on a daily basis for many months, and they served as a constant reminder that she was deprived of equal status, respect, and dignity in the workplace.”
The Army agreed to provide remedial training on prohibited personnel practices for supervisors, as well as workplace-wide diversity and sensitivity training with a specific focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. The Army's did not admit a legal violation.
Lusardi was represented by the Transgender Law Center. “I applaud Ms. Lusardi for standing up not only for her rights, but for those of all federal employees,” said Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner. “The Army deserves credit for seeking to right the wrongs that Ms. Lusardi faced and for creating a more welcoming environment for its LGBT employees.”
Obama’s July 21 move comprised two executive orders, one that banned discrimination against LGBT federal employees, the other prohibiting federal contractors from such discrimination.
On Oct. 16, OSC announced a change in the Army’s security regulations that had previously allowed legal, private and consensual sexual activities to disqualify an individual from holding a sensitive position.