Facebook to Pay More Than $14 Million in Justice Dept. Settlement Over Discrimination Against American Workers
David Nakamura and Cat Zakrzewski, Washington Post, October 19, 2021
Facebook has agreed to pay penalties totaling more than $14 million under a settlement with the Justice Department over findings that the company’s hiring practices intentionally discriminated against U.S. workers in favor of foreign workers, U.S. officials said Tuesday.
The social media behemoth has also agreed in a settlement with the Labor Department to do more to recruit U.S. workers for technology jobs and be subject to federal scrutiny for up to three years, the officials said.
The agreements came after the Justice Department sued Facebook in December for allegedly failing to properly advertise at least 2,600 jobs — and consider applications from U.S. citizens — before offering the spots to foreigners whom the company was sponsoring for green cards granting permanent residency in 2018 and 2019.
The lawsuit said Facebook’s practices violated federal laws that require employers to demonstrate that there are no qualified U.S. workers available before offering positions to temporary foreign workers they are sponsoring.
Facebook has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $4.75 million to the U.S. government and up to $9.5 million to eligible victims of Facebook’s alleged discrimination, which officials said was the largest monetary settlement of its kind under the anti-discrimination provisions in U.S. immigration laws.
Officials said the Justice Department will work with the company to determine potential victims. But they said it was too early to know how many people might be eligible for damages.
The Justice Department’s initial lawsuit against Facebook highlighted long-running tensions between President Donald Trump and tech companies over their reliance on high-skilled, foreign workers.
Facebook, in particular, tried for years to increase the ranks of high-skilled foreign laborers in the United States, including programs such as the H-1B visa, to power its highly technical operations.
In its complaint in December, the Justice Department said the company eschewed its traditional hiring process in cases where it wanted to hire an employee on an H-1B visa for a permanent position. When a temporary visa holder sought such a job, Facebook “diverged from its normal recruiting protocols,” according to the government, opting in some cases against “advertising the position on its external website.”
If a U.S. worker applied for one of these jobs — and Facebook determined they were qualified — the company appeared to hire them in a different capacity, the lawsuit found. Federal law generally allows a company to sponsor a temporary worker for a permanent position only in cases where there is no qualified U.S. applicant.