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Another case of workplace discrimination involving Facebook

A former federal employee of the Library of Congress is pursuing a workplace discrimination complaint against his former employer, based on religious and sexual orientation harassment.

The employee, a 30-year-old male, traces the root of the harassment back to his "Like" on a Facebook page that promoted homosexual adoption. The employee was also Facebook friends with his supervisor's daughter, who commented negatively about his "Like" of that particular website. The employee alleged that his supervisor's daughter almost immediately "unfriended" him on Facebook, and he was treated differently at work from that day forward.

He stated his supervisor began to lecture him on religion and commented that it was a "sin" to be a homosexual, before eventually confronting him directly about his sexual orientation.

The employee eventually had to take disability leave for what he termed "a severe anxiety disorder triggered by a hostile work environment." He was subsequently fired after missing 37 workdays even though he says the leave was approved. The Library of Congress says his leave had expired.

The administrative process for this particular federal employee was to first file a complaint with the Library of Congress' Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint Office. That is where the complaint remains and they are expected to respond by May 9. After that, the employee can accept the ruling, appeal it to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or file a civil lawsuit.

This procedure is typical of a federal agency. Federal agencies have internal processes for handling workplace discrimination complaints before they can be filed with the EEOC. The procedure can be complicated, and a former employee can understandably feel that the scales are weighted against them in this initial phase. This initial stage is crucial, however, and competent legal counsel can make or break the case at that point.

Source: ABC News, "Gay Federal Employee Says Facebook 'Like' Led to Discrimination, Harassment and Firing," Susanna Kim, April 13, 2012

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