By Sarah Pauly, Fair Employment Program Manager

This week, the Illinois Department of Human Rights found substantial evidence that Exxon engaged in sexual orientation discrimination in violation of the Illinois Human Rights Act.

The ruling stems from a 2012 testing investigation of federal contractors conducted by the ERC and Freedom to Work—a national organization committed to banning workplace harassment and career discrimination against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender Americans—that uncovered that Exxon Mobil participated in discriminatory hiring practices against prospective LGBT applicants.

The decision means that the Department of Human Rights has agreed to take Freedom to Work’s side in the non-profit group’s action against Exxon, and will co-prosecute the action before the Illinois Human Rights Commission later this year.

Until January 2015, Exxon Mobil offered no discrimination protections for their LGBT employees, and is the only company to ever receive a negative score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index—a national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices pertinent to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees.

Companies that participate in discriminatory practices, such as Exxon, are proving that discriminating against LGBT job applicants is not only a poor example of corporate social responsibility, its bad business. The ERC continues to advocate for equal opportunity in employment for ALL, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

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