April 10, 2012 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Congress to probe Library of Congress discrimination charge

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who chairs a joint congressional committee that oversees the Library of Congress, said on Tuesday that the committee would look into allegations that the library engaged in discrimination by firing an employee because he’s gay.

“We certainly believe that there should be no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” Schumer told the Blade Tuesday following a news conference on an unrelated issue. “So we’re going to look into this specific case and make sure that justice is done.”

Peter TerVeer, 30, former management analyst at the Library of Congress’s Office of the Inspector General, charges in a discrimination complaint that he was fired on April 6 after allegedly being harassed for more than a year by a supervisor who repeatedly cited passages from the Bible condemning homosexuality.

A spokesperson for the library declined to comment on the allegation, saying it never discusses pending personnel matters. The spokesperson, Gayle Osterberg, declined to confirm whether the library still has an internal personnel policy prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The library adopted such a policy in the late 1990s, but it couldn’t be immediately determined whether the policy remains in effect.

“That’s something I’ve stood for my whole career,” said Schumer in referring to policies aimed at barring job discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“I’m head of the committee on the library, and so we will make sure we get to the bottom of this,” he said.

An official congressional directory of committees on the House and Senate websites shows that Schumer is chair of the Joint Committee on the Library, which has jurisdiction over “the affairs and administration of the Library of Congress.”

Other senators on the committee include Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss.). House members include Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), who serves as vice chair; and Reps. Daniel Lungren (R-Calif.), Robert Brady (D-Pa.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Ander Crenshaw (R-Fla.).

Peter TerVeer, gay news, gay politics dc

Peter TerVeer (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

TerVeer and his attorney, Thomas Simeone, were scheduled to hold a news conference to discuss the case outside the Library of Congress’s Madison Building where TerVeer worked at 11 a.m. Wed., April 11.

TerVeer charges in a complaint filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that he was elevated from a temporary to permanent position and promoted twice since he was hired in 2008. He said the alleged harassment by his supervisor began immediately after the supervisor discovered he was gay in August 2009 and continued through October 2011, when TerVeer says in his complaint that severe emotional stress caused by the alleged harassment forced him to take disability leave from his job.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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