The Trump administration’s US Department of Justice (DoJ) has filed a lawsuit against Facebook over its hiring practices.

In its lawsuit, the DoJ alleges that Facebook has been discriminating against US workers after it “refused to recruit, consider, or hire qualified and available US workers for over 2,600 positions.”

The DoJ alleges that Facebook, instead, opted to use temporary H-1B visas, which are often used by tech firms to bring skilled foreign workers to the United States.

DoJ lawsuit

The DoJ alleges that Facebook’s discrimination against US workers offered an average salary of approximately $156,000.

“According to the lawsuit, and based on the department’s nearly two-year investigation, 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,” said the DoJ.

“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 US 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,” said Dreiband. “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,” Dreiband concluded.

Essentially, the DoJ alleges that between January 2018 and until at least September 2019, “Facebook employed tactics that discriminated against US workers and routinely preferred temporary visa holders (including H-1B visa holders) for jobs in connection with the PERM process.”

It said that Facebook instead reserved those permanent positions for those temporary visa holders.

“The DoJ complaint also alleges that Facebook sought to channel jobs to temporary visa holders at the expense of US workers by failing to advertise those vacancies on its careers website, requiring applicants to apply by physical mail only, and refusing to consider any US workers who applied for those positions,” it said.

“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 alleged.

The department concluded that, during the relevant period, Facebook received zero or one US 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.

Facebook’s response

“These US workers were denied an opportunity to be considered for the jobs Facebook sought to channel to temporary visa holders,” the DoJ lawsuit alleges.

Facebook disputed the allegations according to the BBC, but said it was co-operating with the department.

There is little doubt that President Trump has sought to make it more difficult for tech firms to hire foreign experts instead of Americans, as part of his ‘America First’ doctrine.

Earlier this week, President Trump threatened to veto a major bill for the US Defence sector, unless the US Congress (controlled by the Democrats), removes the Federal law known as Section 230, that protects social networking firms such as Facebook and Twitter, against liability over content posted by users.

The Trump administration has also gone after other tech firms.

In October the DoJ also filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, alleging that Google abuses its position to maintain an illegal monopoly over search and search advertising.

But Google called the DoJ lawsuit “deeply flawed” and insisted that people had a choice of using different search engines, and were able to use different products from rival firms.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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