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Exxon Mobil sued for sexual orientation discrimination

The gay rights advocacy group Freedom to Work recently filed a lawsuit in Illinois against Exxon Mobil for discrimination against a gay applicant. Freedom to Work filed the lawsuit after it conducted a test to determine whether Exxon would discriminate against a gay applicant. In connection with this test, Freedom to Work sent test resumes to Exxon in response to a job posting for an administrative position. The two test resumes were designed so that Freedom to Work could gauge whether Exxon would treat a lesbian applicant differently than a straight applicant.

The test resume of the lesbian applicant implicitly indicated that she was a lesbian because it described her significant involvement in a LGBT rights organization. A comparison between the lesbian applicant’s resume and the straight applicant’s resume showed that the lesbian applicant was clearly better qualified for the position than the straight applicant. Despite this disparity in qualifications, Exxon actively pursued the straight applicant to invite her for an interview but, even when the straight applicant failed to respond to repeated contacts from Exxon, it never invited the better-qualified lesbian applicant for an interview.

Freedom to Work engaged in this testing and filed its lawsuit after Exxon again refused to adopt prohibitions against sexual orientation discrimination in its official equal employment opportunity statement. “Exxon Mobil says it doesn’t discriminate. If so, all they have to do is adopt the same nondiscrimination policy that other companies have and we’ll settle the case,” said president of Freedom to Work, Tico Almeida. “I hope they don’t decide to waste shareholder money by fighting it.”

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