Under federal law it is illegal for employers to discriminate against workers on the basis of a number of things: race, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, age and disability. Sexual orientation, however, is not a protected status. Twenty-one states have banned sexual orientation discrimination, but Texas is among the states that have not done this. So, those who are discriminated against in the workplace due to being gay or lesbian may not always have a form of legal recourse in our state.
Although it is not illegal in many states, a great number of employers have went ahead and banned such discrimination on their own. In fact, many major corporations have written anti-discrimination policies that protect gay and lesbian workers as well as transgender workers. One company that has not done this and is currently coming under fire is Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp.
A gay-rights group recently put Exxon to the test by sending it two fictional resumes for an opening at an office in Illinois. The main differences between the two resumes were that one of the fictional applicants had higher high school and college grades and was described as a gay-rights activist.
Exxon's human resources office here in Texas apparently received both applications, and went on to repeatedly attempt to contact the applicant with lower grades. The other applicant did not receive any followup contact.
The group has now filed a discrimination complaint against Exxon--Illinois is one of the states where sexual orientation discrimination is banned.
The gay-rights group says that it targeted Exxon because it is one of few corporations that has received very low scores by the Human Rights Campaign when it comes to gay rights. Most of its rival oil companies have high scores from the Human Rights Commission.
The group says that its goal is to encourage Exxon to update its equal employment opportunity policy to include both sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories. Shareholders, too, have reportedly pushed for this in the past.
Time will tell whether Exxon or Texas will ban this type of employment discrimination.
Source: Associated Press, "Exxon Mobil Accused of Anti-Gay Bias By Activist Group," David Crary, May 22, 2013