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Group accuses Exxon Mobil of sexual orientation discrimination

Activists are accusing energy company Exxon Mobil of discriminating against job applicants who are gay after the group submitted two applications to the company and a human resources representative favored a less qualified applicant over a gay applicant.

The group has filed a lawsuit seeking to have Exxon Mobil change their policies to include sexual orientation and gender identity on the list of protected groups. Some of the country's largest employers already have policies protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees from systematic discrimination through hiring practices or other policies.

Many companies also already offer benefits for same-sex partners in their corporate insurance plans, but Exxon does not.

A spokesperson from the Human Rights Campaign said that with public opinion and a majority of employers all moving in the direction of equality, it is surprising and frustrating to see one company that refuses to change with the times.

In addition to the lawsuit, there are other efforts underway to encourage the company to change its ways. A New York state Comptroller who oversees the employee retirement fund which is a large shareholder in Exxon Mobil has continually filed resolutions for the annual shareholders meeting to change the policy. He says it's a matter of getting a maximum return on their investment by moving the company forward so it can attract top talent and be more profitable.

Discrimination based on sexual orientation is still legal under federal laws an in the state of Pennsylvania, so Exxon is not required to change the policy. However many other states have acted independently to prohibit it.

Source: Associated Press, "Exxon Mobil Accused of Anti-Gay Bias By Activist Group," David Crary, May 22, 2013

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