Hot On Your Wall: Facebook "Like" Led to Library Of Congress Staffer's Firing?
In today's Hot on your Wall, PQ looks at the unfortunate case of a Library of Congress staffer who allegedly lost his job after his boss took issue with one of his Facebook "Likes." Peter TerVeer was hired in the Library of Congress' Office of the Inspector General back in 2008 and quickly rose up in the ranks of the organization. TerVeer, a gay man who was evidently not out at work, decided to "like" the Facebook page Two Dads, which seeks to "promote awareness of the gay and lesbian community." However, this didn't sit well with his highly conservative boss, as Roll Call reports:
In August 2009, TerVeer said things began to change, as documents obtained by Roll Call suggest. Mechâ€™s daughter noticed that TerVeer had â€œlikedâ€ the â€œTwo Dadsâ€ page on Facebook, which led her to ask TerVeer whether he was gay. He said yes. Shortly after, TerVeer said, he started to receive emails from Mech that contained â€œreligiously motivated harassment and discrimination.â€ Mech then called him into a meeting for the purposes of â€œeducating him on hell and that it awaited him for being a homosexual.â€ A performance review came back from Mech containing, for the first time in TerVeerâ€™s career at the LOC, less than stellar marks. TerVeer said that each time he challenged Mech about the review, he responded with verbal abuse and name-calling, often humiliating him in front of peers. All this resulted, TerVeer said, in an emotional response so great that his doctor ordered him to go on extended medical leave. He was ultimately fired for missing 37 consecutive workdays, though TerVeer maintains that library officials had signed off on his request for disability time off.
TerVeer is striking back against the revered institution for discrimination due to his religion and sexual orientation, as FOX 5 DC reports:
"In an affidavit in support of a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, TerVeer says his immediate supervisor created a hostile work environment by disparaging both his homosexuality and his religious beliefs. "My personal perspective as to having my religious beliefs is that homosexuality is not a sin. And that was not the case up there," said VerTeer gesturing toward the location of his old office.
The Today Show has more on the Library of Congress' response, and the unusual strategy that TerVeer's attorney plans to take with the case:
A spokeswoman for the Library of Congress said she could not comment on personnel matters. But the Library released a statement saying, â€œLibrary of Congress employees, like all employees in the federal government, have protection against workplace discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Library employees who believe they have been subjected to discrimination may avail themselves of an internal administrative process to address their equal employment opportunity complaints.â€ TerVeer filed a claim with Library of Congressâ€™ Equal Employment Opportunity Complaints Office, Simeone said. The office has until mid-May to make a ruling. After that, TerVeer can take his case to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. EEOC spokeswoman Christine Nazer would not comment on the case. Even though sexual orientation discrimination was part of the case, Simeone said his client will fight the termination based on religious bias. He said laws protecting workers against sexual orientation discrimination are limited and provide few, if any, remedies for compensating workers in cases like TerVeer's.
Unfortunately, TerVeer's attorney just became even more spot-on in his assessment of the state of anti-discrimination laws: the White House said yesterday that President Obama will not sign an executive order protecting federal contractors from discrimination based on their sexual orientation. What are your thoughts, readers? Will TerVeer's case change the way you approach social media, or does it make you all the more anxious to go "Like" Two Dads? Sound off in the comments!