For Immediate Release
Alexis Squire, Equal Rights Center, 202-370-3209


ILLINOIS — In a January 30th ruling, 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 decision comes nearly two years after Freedom to Work filed a charge of discrimination against ExxonMobil asserting that Exxon gave an unlawful hiring preference to a lesser qualified straight applicant over a better qualified lesbian applicant. In December 2012, Freedom to Work undertook employment testing with the experts at the Equal Rights Center, who submitted nearly identical resumes to Exxon for a position in Exxon’s Patoka, Illinois office. Exxon responded by contacting the less qualified straight applicant three times to invite her to interview, but never contacted the better qualified lesbian applicant. Today’s 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.

**For copies of the ruling, please contact Brett Abrams at 516-841-1105 or by email at

“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,” said Tico Almeida, the founder and president of Freedom to Work. “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.”

“We are delighted by the Department’s decision finding substantial evidence that Exxon broke the law,” said Peter Romer-Friedman, counsel to Freedom to Work in its proceeding against Exxon. “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.”

“The outcome of this case is further proof of the effectiveness of civil rights testing in uncovering illegal employment discrimination against LGBT job applicants,” said Melvina Ford, executive director of the Equal Rights Center. “Without the testing methodologies used in Freedom to Work’s investigation, Exxon’s discrimination against LGBT employment applicants would have gone undetected and unaddressed.”

Exxon Mobil is the nation’s most profitable corporation, and has been singled out by the Human Rights Campaign as the only corporation ever to receive a negative score on a standardized rating from zero to 100. Freedom to Work chose to bring this case in Illinois, as the State outlawed sexual orientation discrimination in 2006, while other states, like Texas, where the organization also found evidence of Exxon’s anti-LGBT hiring discrimination, has no such law.


About the Equal Rights Center (
Originally formed in 1983, the Equal Rights Center (ERC) is a national non-profit civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C. With members located in every state and the District of Columbia, the ERC works nationally to promote equal opportunity in housing, employment, disability rights, immigrant rights, and access to public accommodations and government services for all protected classes under federal, state, and local laws. is a national organization committed to banning workplace harassment and career discrimination against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender Americans through public education, policy analysis, and legal work.

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