WASHINGTON – Allegations of sexual harassment at the Library of Congress have sparked an inquiry on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) tells WTOP he is looking into allegations from a former Library analyst that he was discriminated against and eventually fired after his boss learned he was gay.
“There should be no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” says Schumer, who is chairman of the committee that has jurisdiction over the Library. “We’re going to look into this specific case and make sure justice is done.”
Peter TerVeer began working as an analyst at the Library in 2008, and was promoted twice and received glowing performance reviews, according to his affidavit.
But that changed in late 2009 after his boss, John Mech, learned he was gay.
According to a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, TerVeer says he became Facebook friends with Mech’s daughter, and she later learned of his homosexuality from a post.
TerVeer says his boss treated him differently and began to harass him at work.
“I contend that I have been subjected to a hostile work environment by Mr. Mech.” TerVeer wrote in his complaint. “Mr. Mech has acted to impose his religious beliefs on me.”
TerVeer also submitted copies of emails from Mech. He says his former boss wrote things like: “He (Jesus) prohibited sexual immorality, including homosexuality” and “Diversity – Let’s Celebrate It,” then showing a picture of assault rifles.
In 2010, TerVeer refused to sign his annual performance review because he said it did not accurately reflect his work.
In October 2011, TerVeer says he went on unpaid disability leave due to the stress of his work environment. A spokesperson says TerVeer was unable to submit an extension because he was on leave without pay since October and “had no finances to obtain the ability to provide new doctors’ orders to provide an acceptable official form for extension.”
On April 6, he was fired for being absent from work without approved leave.
A spokesperson for the Library issued the following statement:
The Library does not comment on personnel matters. Library 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. To protect the privacy of all parties and to ensure a confidential process, we do not comment on individual cases.