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10 Businesses to Avoid This Holiday Season If You Care About LGBT Rights


Many LGBT people know they should think twice about putting money in the Salvation Army's red kettles, resist the temptation of waffle fries at Chick-fil-A in the food court, and avoid fueling up at ExxonMobil on the way to grandma's house. 

But even though they may not be as infamously anti-gay, many other major American retailers still aren't coming anywhere close to treating their LGBT employees equally in 2014. With Black Friday just days away, it's time to take a look at where not to spend our estimated $830 billion in annual buying power if we truly care about gay rights. 

The Human Rights Campaign's annual Buying For Workplace Equality guide recommends avoiding any retailer that receives 45 points or less on the Corporate Equality Index, which was released this week. 

"Whether you are buying a cup of coffee or renovating your home, by supporting businesses that support workplace equality you send a powerful message that LGBT inclusion is good for the bottom line," HRC says. 

For a searchable database of all employers in the Corporate Equality Index, go here. Below are 10 retailers LGBT people should avoid based on their record on gay rights. 



Bed, Bath and Beyond

HRC Score: 30

Headquarters: Union, N.J. 



Brooks Brothers

HRC Score: 0

Headquarters: Enfield, Conn. 




HRC Score: 0

Headquarters: Sidney, Neb.

See the rest of the list, AFTER THE JUMP... 

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ExxonMobil Agrees To Follow Executive Order Protecting LGBT Employees

After 17 years of rejecting workplace protections for LGBT employees, the oil and gas company Exxon Mobil has agreed to abide by the new LGBT workplace discrimination protections for federal employees recently signed into law by President Barack Obama.

Exxon_mobil_2The Eagle reports that “the Labor Department has 90 days to issue regulations for how employers must comply.” However, the company has stopped short of creating and applying LGBT protections of its own.

The AP has more:

Exxon… according to government records, won more than $480 million in federal contracts in 2013 and more than $8 billion since 2006…

The company began offering benefits to legally married same-sex couples in May 2013, a month before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which had allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted in other states.

A lawsuit against the corporation is ongoing:

… Exxon is facing a same-sex discrimination complaint in Illinois. Last year, the group Freedom to Work sent the company two fictitious resumes for a job opening in Illinois. One resume had stronger qualifications, but identified the applicant as gay. Exxon Mobil responded to the lesser-qualified applicant's resume while the gay applicant received no reply.

Earlier this month, the Illinois Human Rights Commission overturned a lower body's decision to dismiss the case. Exxon has said the allegations are without merit.

Study: Better Qualified LGBT Applicants Face Discrimination From Federal Contractors

A new study by Freedom to Work and the Equal Rights Center demonstrates that better qualified LGBT applicants are 23% less likely than applicants who don’t identify as LGBT to get a call back from some federal contractors, reports Vox.com.

Report on employment discrimination exxon mobilLast month, President Barack Obama announced that the White House is preparing an executive order banning employment discrimination based on gender identity for federal employees.

The study, titled Federal Contractors Show Anti-LGBT Hiring Bias, sent two fictitious resumes - one of which mentioned a leadership role in an LGBT organization - to 100 positions across eight federal contractors including ExxonMobil and General Electric.

ExxonMobil has a history of repeatedly rejecting LGBT workplace discrimination policiesand have even been taken to court for anti-gay discrimination.

The LGBT resume always included a higher grade point average and stronger work experience. Despite the stronger credentials, the LGBT applicant was much less likely to get called back.

A report infographic demonstrates one example of the application process through ExxonMobil.

The report concludes that both the ERC and FTW applaud Obama’s executive order which will finally give LGBT employees legal recourse to address work discrimination.

On June 25, 140 religious leaders petitioned for an exemption from the pending executive order.

Watch President Obama's Pride Month address at which he announced the executive order, AFTER THE JUMP...


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ExxonMobil Lies About Non-Discrimination Policy

On Monday President Obama announced that he would soon be issuing an executive order that would extend essential protections to employees of federal contractors, which covers LGBT employee protections. ExxonMobil is one of the government's largest federal contractors.

ExxonMobil tankUnfortunately, ExxonMobil has a rather sordid history of repeatedly rejecting LGBT workplace discrimination policies and have even been taken to court for anti-gay discrimination.

In an attempt to run some damage control, ExxonMobil released a statement that dispensed with spin and decided to just flat-out lie about their own record. A statement that the Human Rights Campaign managed to secure claimed that ExxonMobil has:

...a longstanding policy that strictly prohibits any form of discrimination by or toward employees, contractors, suppliers and customers in any ExxonMobil workplace. Our global, zero-tolerance policy applies to all forms of discrimination, including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

False. Perhaps instead of fabricating lies, ExxonMobil should be spending their efforts on figuring out how to remain in compliance with Obama's impending executive order while at the same time appeasing their bigoted shareholders who voted for 17 years in a row to deny protections for LGBT workers.

Exxon Mobil Rejects LGBT Workplace Discrimination Policies For 17th Year In A Row

For the seventeenth year in a row Exxon Mobil shareholders have rejected policies protecting LGBT employees from workplace discrimination.

Exxon-mobilOnly 19.5 percent of the shareholders voted for the measure at their annual meeting this Wednesday — that’s lower than the 19.8 percent in 2013 and 20.6 percent in 2012.

Last year, the global oil and gas company began offering domestic partner benefits in accordance with the Labor Department following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.

Now the company’s board says it doesn’t need protections for LGBT workers because:

“ExxonMobil’s existing global policies... prohibit all forms of discrimination, including those based on sexual orientation and gender identity, in any company workplace, anywhere in the world.”

However, their lack of LGBT protections scored the company a -25 on Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. HRC Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz commented:

“Over fifty years of practical experience has firmly established that there is heightened sensitivity to discrimination only when categories are enumerated. If ExxonMobil is as committed to zero-tolerance as they claim, there’s simply no reason to have fully-inclusive policies. Until then, their commitment to equality will rightly be questioned.”

A 2013 lawsuit filed by the LGBT labor-rights group Freedom to Work alleges that Exxon Mobil uses discriminatory practices to hire straight workers over equally-qualified gay ones.

Furthermore, a recent report co-authored by Freedom to Work and the HRC also shows that LGBT workers face higher incidents of workplace discrimination despite the increase of LGBT civil protections.

In the meanwhile, The Advocate has alternatives for those looking to support gas companies with greater LGBT-inclusivity, including Chevron and Shell.

ExxonMobil on Trial for Anti-Gay Discrimination


Two applicants apply for the same job -- Marketing Associate for EnormoCorp. The applicants, Alice and Barbara, are identical in some ways: same college, same gender, even the same hometown. But Alice is consistently superior in the relevant qualifications: Alice has a 3.8 GPA to Barbara's 3.2; Alice has been a Marketing Assistant for 5 years, Barbara for only 2; Alice's skills in Excel and other computer programs, all of which are listed in the job description as necessary for the job, is "excellent," but Barbara can only boast of "proficient" skills.

ExxonmobilAlice's resume also notes that she is the treasurer of her local chapter of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. Barbara does volunteer campaign work for Emily's List, the organization that helps elect women candidates.

If you ran human resources for EnormoCorp, you'd at least want to interview Alice first. She's the more qualified of the two applicants.

ExxonMobil does things a little differently. It discriminates against the LGBT applicant because it can.

In December of last year, the gay rights organization Freedom to Work and its founder, Tico Almeida, wanted to expose incident of Exxon's antigay discrimination. Mr. Almeida tested the company with two ghost applicants just like Alice and Barbara, and Exxon went for Barbara. In fact, Exxon didn't just opt for the non-gay candidate; when she never responded to their several calls to come in for an interview, Exxon never even contacted the gay applicant as a back up! Along with Peter Romer-Friedman, an attorney at Cohen Milstein Sellers and Toll PLLC, Mr. Almeida is suing Exxon for violating Illinois's nondiscrimination laws. And they're going to win.

The most remarkable thing about this case is not that it highlights the need for a federal LGBT nondiscrimination act. Nor is it that this kind of discrimination happens every day. Those facts are, in fact, quite unremarkable. Rather, what's amazing is that even though the technique of sending in "testers" like Alice and Barbara has been outrageously successful in identifying and stopping discrimination against African Americans, Hispanics, the disabled, and other protected groups, this is the first time it has been used to advance the cause of gay rights.

I will be following this case every step of the way, bringing you updates and progress reports, as well as insights into the employment discrimination litigation process.

I start with the basics: how this case came about and why it's so important,

Continue reading "ExxonMobil on Trial for Anti-Gay Discrimination" »


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