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Freedom to Work files employment discrimination suit against Exxon Mobil


By Jacob Combs

AP file photo
AP file photo

Freedom to Work filed a complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights yesterday alleging that Exxon Mobil Corporation discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation in its hiring practices, in contravention of the state’s Human Rights Act.

The complaint, written by two lawyers from the D.C. civil rights/employment firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, was based on the company’s treatment of a pair of ‘test’ resumes that Freedom to Work submitted on behalf of fictitious applicants to an Exxon job located in Illinois.  This is the first time an LGBT group has conducted a resume test.  As Freedom to Work describes in its filing, the two applicants received dramatically different treatment by the company based on their sexual orientation:

“[W]hen a highly qualified LGBT candidate applied to work as an administrative assistant for Exxon in Illinois, Exxon refused to invite the applicant for an interview and never contacted her about her interest in the position. In stark contrast, during the same time period a less qualified non-LGBT applicant applied for the same position and Exxon responded by contacting the less qualified non-LGBT applicant on three separate occasions to ask her to interview for the position.

“On the third occasion that Exxon contacted the non-LGBT applicant, Exxon’s representative even suggested that the position would be held open for the non-LGBT applicant for four days until the applicant could contact Exxon. And even after the non-LGBT candidate failed to respond to Exxon’s request for an interview, Exxon did not contact the better qualified LGBT candidate for an interview.”

Freedom to Work’s complaint asks the Department of Human Rights “to enjoin Exxon from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation in Illinois, to require Exxon to amend its equal employment opportunity policy to expressly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and to require Exxon to educate its managers and workforce on how to ensure that its employees and applicants are not subject to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Exxon Mobil remains one of the few Fortune 500 companies without an LGBT non-discrimination policy; the oil company received a score of -25 in the Human Rights Campaign’s 2013 Corporate Equality Index.

Exxon will hold its annual shareholder’s meeting next week in Dallas, where shareholders will vote on a resolution to adopt an anti-LGBT discrimination ban.  A similar proposal failed last year when 80 percent of shareholders rejected it.  Only 12 percent of Fortune 500 companies do not have such a policy.

Freedom to Work conducted a similar resume test in Texas, Exxon’s home state, which returned the same results as the Illinois test.  However, Texas has no LGBT employment discrimination law, so Freedom to Work was only able to challenge the company’s hiring practices in Illinois.

“Exxon broke the law, defies industry standards and continues to betray the American people’s sense of fairness,” Tico Almeida, Freedom to Work’s president, said in a statement announcing the complaint.  “This case is one more reminder that Exxon stands virtually alone in the Fortune 100 in denying qualified gay and transgender Americans a fair shot to get a job based on their talents and hard work.  Exxon must obey the Golden Rule and do onto others as they would want others to do onto them.”

Read the full complaint in Freedom to Work v. Exxon Mobil Corp. below, via Equality Case Files at Scribd.

[scribd id=143034582 key=key-1m1wialchd7vndqyc2mh mode=scroll]

1 Comment

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