Facebook settles claims it discriminated against U.S. workers for some jobs in favor of temporary visa holders

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., spoke during a hearing by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington, D.C., U.S.A on Wednesday, April 11, 2018.
The Department of Justice announced Tuesday that Facebook had settled allegations that it refused U.S. workers from positions it reserved for temporary visa holders.

The Department of Labor also reached a separate agreement with it over possible recruitment violations involving a program that provides jobs for temporary visa holders. The program requires that companies make good-faith attempts to hire U.S. workers for these roles.

The DOJ settlement is the result of a December 2020 Trump administration complaint that claimed Facebook discriminated against U.S. workers. It claimed that Facebook had reserved certain posts for temporary visa holders between Jan. 1, 2018 and Sept. 18, 2019. According to the agencies, Facebook discriminated against U.S. employees based on citizenship or immigration status when they used the permanent labor certification program (PERM).

According to a press release, Facebook will pay a $4.75m civil penalty and make available up $9.5 million for eligible victims. A DOJ official stated that the Civil Rights Division would collaborate with Facebook to identify potential victims, and the agency would eventually approve the list of those eligible for the payout.

The settlements are just the latest in a steady stream of negative news for Facebook. Although the fine is small considering the company's value at nearly $1 trillion, it is still significant. Facebook has been under more scrutiny than usual by the U.S government in recent weeks. A whistleblower and ex-employe released thousands of pages from internal research to Wall Street Journal, and the Senate. This information sheds light on how Facebook's products can adversely affect young people.

These figures are the largest fine and monetary award that the DOJ Civil Rights Division has received under the Immigration and Nationality Act's Anti-Discrimination Provision.

Company will need to post PERM job openings more widely and ensure that its recruitment processes match those of its competitors.

Facebook's separate settlement was based on a 2021 audit of pending PERM applications by the company, which it opened following the DOJ's lawsuit. As a result, the department found potential violations in Facebook’s recruitment process. The company will provide additional notice to U.S. workers, and it will be subject to ongoing audits and more scrutiny to ensure compliance with the PERM program over the next three-years.

A Facebook spokesperson stated that while we believe we have met federal government standards for permanent labor certification (PERM), we have reached agreements to end the litigation and continue with our PERM program. These resolutions will allow us to focus on continuing our focus on hiring top builders from the U.S. as well as around the globe, and supporting our internal community with highly skilled visa holders seeking permanent residence.

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