Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Facebook Over Alleged Discrimination of US Workers

December 4, 2020 Updated: December 4, 2020

The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Dec. 3 announced that it has filed a lawsuit against Facebook, alleging that the social media giant discriminated against U.S. workers in favor of temporary visa holders.

The lawsuit alleges that from January 2018 to September 2019, Facebook refused to recruit, consider, or hire qualified and available U.S. workers for over 2,600 positions with an average salary of about $156,000—instead reserving the jobs for foreigners with temporary H-1B and other visas the company wanted to sponsor for green cards.

According to the lawsuit, which is based on a nearly two-year investigation by the department, Facebook intentionally created a hiring system which denied qualified U.S. workers a fair opportunity to learn about and apply for jobs.

The lawsuit claims Facebook employed tactics that discriminated against U.S. workers and, rather than conducting a genuine search for qualified and available U.S. workers for permanent positions, instead reserved the positions for temporary visa holders because of their immigration status.

As per the complaint, the social media giant did this by failing to advertise those vacancies on its careers website, requiring applicants to apply by physical mail only, and refusing to consider any U.S. workers who applied for those positions.

“In contrast, Facebook’s usual hiring process relies on recruitment methods designed to encourage applications by advertising positions on its careers website, accepting electronic applications, and not pre-selecting candidates to be hired based on a candidate’s immigration status,” the DOJ said in a statement.

The investigation determined that Facebook’s ineffective recruitment methods dissuaded U.S. workers from applying to vacant positions, and that from Jan. 2018 to September 2019, Facebook received zero or one U.S. worker applicants for 99.7 percent of its positions reserved for sponsoring foreigners through the Department of Labor’s permanent labor certification process (PERM). Meanwhile, comparable positions at Facebook that were advertised on its careers website during a similar time period typically attracted 100 or more applicants each.

The DOJ said Facebook’s alleged practices also adversely impacts temporary visa holders by creating an unequal employment relationship, because such temporary visa holders often have limited job mobility and thus are likely to remain with their company until they can adjust status, which for some can be decades.

The DOJ is seeking civil penalties, back pay on behalf of domestic workers allegedly denied employment, and other relief to ensure Facebook stops the alleged violations in the future.

“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,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division said.

Facebook is also currently under investigation for potential antitrust violations by a group of 47 state attorneys general who are expected to file a lawsuit against the company as early as next week. The Federal Trade Commission is also reportedly set to file its own antitrust lawsuit against the social media giant, CNBC reports.

President Donald Trump said on Twitter early Friday that he would be vetoing a national security bill because it didn’t address limiting protections currently granted to social media companies under the Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

The Trump administration and a number of Republicans have been highly critical of Facebook and other large tech companies, frequently accusing them of censoring conservative content and arguing that they act more like publishers and so should be held liable for user content.

The Epoch Times has contacted Facebook for comment.