U.S. Office of Special Counsel
1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 201
Washington, D.C. 20036-4505
U.S. OFFICE OF SPECIAL COUNSEL SECURES CORRECTIVE AND DISCIPLINARY ACTION IN CASE OF FEDERAL JOB APPLICANT DENIED JOB BECAUSE OF HIS HOMOSEXUALITY
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 6/20/03
CONTACT: KAREN DALHEIM
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today announced that -- on the basis of the results of an OSC investigation -- the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has agreed to provide backpay to a job applicant who was denied a federal position because of his homosexuality. IRS also agreed, at OSC’s request, to suspend the discriminating supervisor for 45 days, without pay, and to detail the individual to a non-supervisory position for one year.
The job applicant, a GS-12 computer specialist, applied for a GS-13 computer specialist position with the IRS in 2000. The individuals who interviewed him recommended that he be hired. The applicant, however, never heard back from the IRS. He assumed that he had not been selected.
In September 2001, the applicant was contacted by one of the individuals who had interviewed him. That individual told the applicant that he had recommended to his supervisor, the hiring official, that the applicant be hired. According to the individual, the supervisor responded that she had a “good friend” who had worked at a federal agency where the applicant formerly worked and that she would ask for a reference. Later, when this individual asked about the status of the application, the supervisor replied that the IRS would not hire him because of his homosexuality, referring to that sexual orientation in a derogatory manner.
Thereafter, the applicant filed a complaint with OSC, alleging that the IRS had discriminated against him on the basis of his sexual orientation when it refused to hire him. After an investigation, OSC concluded that there were reasonable grounds to believe that the IRS supervisor who had refused to hire the complainant had violated 5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(10). That provision makes it a “prohibited personnel practice” to discriminate against a federal employee or job applicant on the basis of off-duty conduct that does not affect job performance, including sexual orientation.
Upon being advised of OSC’s findings, the IRS promptly agreed to offer the complainant the job he had been denied, as well as backpay. The complainant declined the job offer, but accepted a monetary settlement. The IRS also agreed to discipline and detail the supervisor who had rejected the complainant’s application. The supervisor agreed not to challenge those actions.
OSC thanked the IRS for its cooperation in resolving the case, and noted that discrimination based upon sexual orientation, or any other factor that has no bearing on an employee’s ability to do the job, is irreconcilable with the fundamental principles that underlie the merit-based civil service, and should not be tolerated.
OSC is an independent federal agency that investigates and prosecutes complaints alleging the commission of a prohibited personnel practice. In cases where an OSC investigation reveals reasonable grounds to believe that a prohibited personnel practice has been committed and an agency declines to voluntarily provide corrective and/or disciplinary action, OSC will prosecute the case before the Merit Systems Protection Board. In many cases, such as this one, OSC obtains corrective and disciplinary action through negotiations with the employing agency.