AP NEWS

New Mexico congresswoman’s office faces discrimination claim

December 12, 2017 GMT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A recent New Mexico college graduate says she was fired from an internship in U.S. Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office because she is transgender.

Riley Del Rey tells the Santa Fe New Mexican she’s coming forward nearly three years after the internship because of the wave of U.S. news reports about harassment and discrimination. She said the views of transgender people have been missing from the national debate.

Lujan Grisham, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in New Mexico, said through a spokesman that neither she nor her office would discriminate against anyone.

Lujan Grisham’s office referred questions to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, where Del Rey worked briefly. The nonprofit organization, which Lujan Grisham previously led as chairwoman, provides students with housing and stipends to do internships on Capitol Hill.

The institute denied the discrimination claims. It declined to elaborate on the allegations but confirmed Del Ray was an intern in 2015 and did not finish the program.

Del Rey alleged institute supervisors discussed her physical appearance with her after she began working in Washington, D.C., suggesting for example that her heels were too high or her hemline too short. She said her clothing was professional.

She said the organization’s concerns culminated about three weeks into her internship during a meeting with staff from the institute and members of Lujan Grisham’s office. Del Rey said she believed that staff in the congresswoman’s office had become aware that she is transgender.

Del Rey returned to Albuquerque and completed a bachelor’s degree in philosophy at the University of New Mexico. She has worked with the advocacy group Young Women United and is employed at a law firm.

Lujan Grisham’s office said it has a record of defending the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Her staff has received training from the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico and UNM’s LGBTQ Resource Center.

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Information from: The Santa Fe New Mexican, http://www.sfnewmexican.com