Justice Department sues Facebook for alleged discrimination against US workers

The lawsuit suggests that Facebook, over a roughly two-year time span, knowingly favored H1-B and other temporary visa holders over US-based job applicants for more than 2,600 positions.

The United States Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Facebook for alleged "widespread" discrimination against US workers. The lawsuit suggests that Facebook, over a roughly two-year time span, knowingly favored H1-B and other temporary visa holders over US-based job applicants for more than 2,600 positions. 

According to the DOJ, Facebook "intentionally created a hiring system in which it denied qualified US workers a fair opportunity to learn about and apply for jobs that Facebook instead sought to channel to temporary visa holders Facebook wanted to sponsor for green cards."

Further, the lawsuit alleges that Facebook reserved these high-paying jobs for temporary visa holders in connection with the permanent labor certification process (PERM). These jobs were not advertised on career websites and applicants were required to apply by postal mail only, per the DOJ's lawsuit. The PERM process is overseen by the Department of Labor and stipulates that a company must demonstrate there are no qualified US workers available for a position before that position can be offered to a temporary visa holder.

Facebook is also accused of essentially trapping temporary visa holders in an employment situation with limited job mobility while they wait potentially decades to adjust their immigration status. 

"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 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 all employers — including those in the technology sector — is clear: you cannot illegally prefer to recruit, consider, or hire temporary visa holders over US workers."

The DOJ is seeking civil penalties as well as back pay to US workers denied employment by Facebook due to this alleged discrimination.

Facebook denied the allegations in a statement.

"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," a Facebook spokesperson said.