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Federal Lawsuit Accuses Fb of Skewed Hiring Practices

The Department of Justice brings a lawsuit against Facebook for discriminating against U.S. workers.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced it has filed a lawsuit against Facebook, alleging the social media company discriminated against U.S. workers in its hiring practices in favor of temporary visa holders.  The suit is a result of a two-year investigation into the social media company’s hiring system.

The lawsuit claims Facebook “refused to recruit, consider, or hire qualified and available U.S. workers for over 2,600 positions that Facebook, instead, reserved for temporary visa holders it sponsored for permanent work authorization in connection with the permanent labor certification process (PERM).”  The specific roles at the center of Facebook’s alleged hiring practices discrimination offered an average salary of more than $150,000.

Photo by Alex Haney on Unsplash

“The Department of Justice’s lawsuit alleges that Facebook engaged in intentional and widespread violations of the law, by setting aside positions for temporary visa holders instead of considering interested and qualified U.S. workers,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric S. Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “This lawsuit follows a nearly two-year investigation into Facebook’s practices and a ‘reasonable cause’ determination by the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  Our message to workers is clear: if companies deny employment opportunities by illegally preferring temporary visa holders, the Department of Justice will hold them accountable.  Our message to workers is clear: If companies deny employment opportunities by illegally preferring temporary visa holders, the Department of Justice will hold them accountable.  Our message to all employers – including those in the technology sector – is clear: you cannot illegally prefer to recruit, consider, or hire temporary visa holders over U.S. workers.”

The lawsuit states, “Between Jan. 1, 2018, and at least Sept. 18, 2019, Facebook routinely preferred temporary visa holders for jobs in connection with the PERM process, a Department of Labor process that allows employers to offer permanent positions to temporary visa holders by converting them into permanent residents.  Rather than conducting a search for available American workers for permanent positions, Facebook reserved the positions for temporary visa holders because of their immigration status.”

By doing so, the social media giant went against traditional hiring practices, refraining from advertising on its usual recruiting website and requiring applicants to apply by physical mail.  If U.S. workers still found a way to apply, their candidacy was not considered.  Although rare, this did happen.

The DOJ concluded in its 17-page complaint, “During the relevant period, Facebook received zero or one U.S. worker applicants for 99.7 percent of its PERM positions, while comparable positions at Facebook that were advertised on its careers website during a similar time period typically attracted 100 or more applicants each.  These U.S. workers were denied an opportunity to be considered for the jobs Facebook sought to channel to temporary visa holders.”

Facebook responded, “Facebook has been cooperating with the DOJ in its review of this issue and while we dispute the allegations in the complaint, we cannot comment further on pending litigation.”

The DOJ lawsuit was brought as part of the Civil Rights Division’s Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative, established by the Trump administration in 2017.  The department is seeking civil penalties on behalf of U.S. workers denied an opportunity for employment due to the alleged discriminatory practices and the assurance Facebook will stop using these practices moving forward.


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