Gay man alleges discrimination in suit against Library of Congress

By David Ferguson
Thursday, August 23, 2012 14:52 EDT
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A gay man who says he was harassed on the job and ultimately fired over his sexual orientation has filed a federal suit against the Library of Congress. According to the Washington Post, Peter TerVeer was employed as an auditor in the office of the Library’s Inspector General, but when he declined to date his supervisor’s single daughter on the grounds that he is not heterosexually inclined, things went sour.

TerVeer filed suit on August 3 in U.S. District Court in Washington claiming, reports the Post, “discrimination based on ‘sex stereotyping’ and his religious beliefs in violation of Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act.

The suit alleges that in the two years they worked together, TerVeer’s boss, John Mech, a deeply religious man who kept a Bible on his desk, engaged in a campaign of harassment against his 30-year-old subordinate. TerVeer says that Mech created a deeply hostile work environment, hectoring him with recitations of passages of scripture and “creating a paper trail to support his ultimate goal of driving TerVeer out of the Library of Congress.”

TerVeer also says that when he sought help in the matter through the library’s Equal Employment Opportunity office, Mech retaliated. TerVeer’s attorney, Thomas J. Simeone, told the post that things only got “worse and worse” for his client after he sought official help.

The library’s Equal Employment Opportunity office ruled in favor of the institution, saying that according to its findings, TerVeer had not been discriminated against.

At that point, Simeone said, “(W)e went to court, to get out of the entire administrative process and have a jury figure this out.”

In the suit, TerVeer is seeking reinstatement to his job, back pay, compensatory and punitive damages for emotional distress and an order restraining Mech, who is the lead auditor in the Inspector General’s office, from continuing to subject him to harassment.

The Library of Congress, which has 60 days to file a response to the suit in court, has declined to comment on the matter on the grounds that it does not divulge information about pending litigation. Mech also declined to comment to the Post.

(image via Shutterstock)

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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