I have been seeing this story all day and thought it was a joke. I couldn't find any version of the story until this one that addressed whether she had even applied to the State Department. Turns out, she did.
First off, I completely understand and think the Department is within its right to refuse to hire someone because of a medical issue that could affect where they can serve. Why should someone join the Department and be exempt from Day One from serving in hardship posts. What that means is that those of us who have served at hardship posts have that many fewer positions we can serve in at the "nice" posts that often serve as a means of decompression after a hardship tour. I am fine with someone who comes in capable of serving in hardship posts and then has a decline in health making them unable to. They came in prepared to do their fair share but life intervened. But coming in with no ability to serve a hardship tour? That's not fair to the rest of us.
But here is the second thing: what does the ability to have sex have to do with serving? It sounds like she was not hired because of her need for ongoing treatment for her breast cancer and that the "disability" is being used as an excuse to try to make the Department hire her. Employers are supposed to make reasonable accommodation to people who have disabilities that might ordinarily keep them from serving. For example, a blind person could expect items printed in brail or a reader. Why on earth would they not hire her because she can't have sex (after the Nachman incident, it would seem to make them MORE likely to hire her) and what accommodations could they possibly make.
I mean seriously. I hope the Department doesn't give in. Hire her if she is qualified and her cancer is in remission so that she can serve in hardship posts. But this is absurd.
Here is the story:
Court rules sexual disability is protected under anti-discrimination laws
WASHINGTON A South Carolina breast-cancer survivor has beaten the State Department and convinced judges in Washington that the inability to have sex is a disability protected under federal anti-discrimination laws.
The new appellate court ruling gives Piedmont, S.C., resident Kathy E. Adams another potential shot at serving overseas. More broadly, the ruling cracks open the courtroom door for additional legal challenges by those who are sexually incapacitated.
“I think it’s a major victory for former cancer patients, and for anyone who has had their sex life disrupted,” Adams’ attorney, David H. Shapiro, said Tuesday.
Adams, also a practicing lawyer, wants to compel the State Department to hire her as a foreign service officer and provide back pay. She’ll now go before a jury and trial judge, unless the State Department relents first.
The Russian-speaking Adams aced the State Department’s Foreign Service written and oral exams in 2002, ranking seventh out of 200 candidates. She was in line to start training in January 2004.
Before her training started, doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer. She underwent surgery, but the State Department subsequently denied her entry into the Foreign Service.
“The department could not guarantee (her) access to the required medical follow-up and surveillance at all overseas assignments,” a State Department nurse testified.
State Department officials added, and the dissenting appellate judge agreed, that the department didn’t know about Adams’ sexual disability when it declined to hire her. The court majority, however, reasoned that “it makes no difference whether an employer has precise knowledge of an employee’s substantial limitation” so long as the employer knows about the impairment.
In this case, the State Department knew about Adams’ breast cancer but didn’t know how the cancer treatments impaired her sex life.