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Illinois Finds ‘Substantial Evidence’ ExxonMobil Engaged In Anti-Gay Discrimination

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The Illinois Department of Human Rights announced that it found enough evidence that oil and gas giant ExxonMobil engaged in anti-gay discrimination in its hiring practices reports The Washington Blade. LGBT group Freedom to Work and the Equal Rights Center, an organization with experience in résumé testing practices, filed a complaint against the oil company in 2013 for allegedly engaging in anti-gay bias for a position in Illinois, which has a state law banning discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation.

Both organizations submitted two fictitious résumés to the company in response to a December 2012 job posting in Illinois according to court documents. One résumé denoted that the qualified applicant is gay, listing her work at the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, and the other denoted a less qualified applicant without any indication of gender identity or sexual orientation. The less qualified applicant received multiple callbacks, up to three, while the qualified LGBT applicant didn’t receive any.

The lawsuit seeks restitution in requiring ExxonMobil to enact pro-LGBT protections and training in employment practices in addition to collecting attorneys’ fees. Peter Romer-Friedman, the counsel to Freedom to Work in its proceeding against Exxon, is happy that Freedom to Work is holding the oil company accountable.

Said Romer-Friedman:

"It’s about time that someone held Exxon accountable on behalf of the LGBT community, and I’m so proud of Freedom to Work for its leadership in bringing that accountability to the largest company in the world."

However, ExxonMobil announced last week that it integrated explicit language barring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity into its equal employment opportunity policy. The company enacted the change after President Obama signed an executive order barring federal contractors from committing anti-LGBT job bias. Tico Almeida, the president of Freedom to Work, said the continuation of the lawsuit against ExxonMobil is necessary despite the recent policy change.

Said Almeida:

Almeida"Exxon was recently forced by President Obama’s executive order to add gay and transgender employees to the corporation’s equal employment policies, but those were merely changes on paper.  

"We must ensure that LGBT employees actually get a fair shot in their careers at Exxon, not just on paper. Freedom to Work will continue to prosecute this civil rights case and hold Exxon accountable for its anti-gay discriminatory conduct from the recent past."

Two paths are open in the case for Freedom to Work: filing before the Illinois Human Rights Commission or with the Circuit Court that has jurisdiction over the case. Mike Theodore, a spokesperson for the Illinois Department of Human Rights, said Freedom to Work must file within 30 days to continue with the lawsuit jointly before the Illinois Department of Human Rights, but has an additional 60 days to file independently with the commission or circuit court. 

The Illinois Department of Human Rights’ findings reveal ExxonMobil’s defense for opting to choose the less qualified non-LGBT candidate over the more qualified LGBT candidate. The findings show that Donna Steadman, a human resource adviser for ExxonMobil, denied sexual orientation was a factor in the hiring decision. She testified she selected in the initial screening process for her boss 35 applicants out of the 51 who applied by "looking at their experience, not their volunteer work and their education."

"Steadman stated she did not have a narrowing tool, her process was to open the résumé and skim it for certain words," the finding states, "She felt 35 applicants was a significant number of applicants to pass on. She felt she was passing on a lot of documents for review and she was providing a lot of candidates with experience he had outlined. She was not keeping a tracking sheet for all 51 of them, in fact, she does not know if she opened all 51 of them."

Scott Silvestri, a spokesman from ExxonMobil, said that the company has not received anything on the findings from the Illinois Department of Human Rights, but pledged to fight the lawsuit.

Said Silvestri: 

"We intend to defend the company’s position in the matter because the claims in the complaint are baseless. Sexual orientation or gender identity played no role in the hiring decision because of our zero-tolerance discrimination policies. It is inaccurate to suggest otherwise."

Following Obama's Executive Order Last Year, ExxonMobil Adds LGBT Non-Discrimination Policy

After 17 years of rejecting workplace protections for LGBT employees, oil and gas giant ExxonMobil has followed through with President Obama's July 2014 executive order banning federal contractors from anti-LGBT discrimination. 

Buzzfeed reports:

Exxon mobil“This wasn’t prompted by a change of principles or corporate values, it represents Exxon’s response to President Obama’s July 2014 executive order that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT people,” Deena Fidas, director of the Human Rights Campaign’s Workplace Equality Program said in a statement. “Exxon had to include these explicit workplace protections or risk losing its federal contracts.” [...]

Tico Almeida, whose Freedom to Work organization is suing ExxonMobil for alleged anti-gay discrimination in its hiring processes, echoed Fidas.

“Exxon’s management deserves little credit for finally adopting the LGBT fairness policies they have rejected year after year for almost two decades, but this is an important victory for the company’s current LGBT employees and future LGBT job applicants,” he said. “It’s obvious Exxon is making these changes now because of mounting legal pressure and the impending risk of losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts thanks to President Obama’s executive order.”

He added: “We will continue prosecuting our civil rights lawsuit against Exxon in Illinois because the corporation should be held accountable for its discriminatory actions from the recent past.

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... 

Continue reading "10 Businesses to Avoid This Holiday Season If You Care About LGBT Rights" »

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...


Continue reading "Study: Better Qualified LGBT Applicants Face Discrimination From Federal Contractors" »

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.


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