October continues to be a month Facebook likely wishes it could forget. First came Frances Haugen, the whistleblower who explained in chilling detail how the site and its algorithms are designed to profit off what she called “the spread and amplification of hate, misinformation and political unrest.” Then there was its massive outage — the longest period the site (along with Instagram and WhatsApp) has been down due to “programming issues” in more than a decade. Now, the social media giant is also facing an HR crisis, forced to pay millions to settle claims that the company routinely discriminated against U.S. workers in its hiring practices.
CNN’s Christina Carrega reported that “Facebook will have to pay more than $14 million to settle a case that alleged U.S. workers were denied employment because it reserved jobs for foreign workers with temporary visas in 2018 and 2019.”
According to Carrega, “the Justice Department filed a lawsuit in December 2020 against Facebook for allegedly reserving jobs for temporary visa holders through the permanent labor certification program and using recruitment methods to deter U.S. workers from applying to certain positions.”
In the suit filed by the Department of Justice, the government charged Facebook with allegedly requiring “applications to be submitted by mail only,” refusing to “consider U.S. workers who applied to the positions,” neglecting to properly “advertise positions on their careers website” and only hiring “temporary visa holders.”
According to the DOJ, the average salary for the positions that Facebook allegedly excluded U.S. workers from is approximately $156,000.
In a statement, Kristen Clarke, leader of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, called the settlement justified and historic, saying, “companies cannot set aside certain positions for temporary visa holders, because of their citizenship or immigration status.”
Clarke added that Facebook’s pending settlement is the “largest fine and monetary award that the Civil Rights Division ever recovered in the 35-year history of the [Immigration and Nationality Act’s] anti-discrimination provision.”
The $14-million settlement will include a civil penalty of $4.75 million to the government. Additionally, $9.5 million will be repaid to the workers who were allegedly discriminated against and held back employment from. A portion of the settlement will go toward training company employees on INA anti-discrimination policies and requirements.
Carrega reported that Facebook and the government’s Civil Rights Division will work together to identify the list of potential individuals eligible for compensation. For the next three years, the Justice Department will also have the authority to review job availability and eligible job applications at the agency’s discretion.
For Facebook’s part, a spokesperson said, ”while we strongly believe we met the federal government’s standards in our permanent labor certification (PERM) practices, we’ve reached agreements to end the ongoing litigation and move forward with our PERM program, which is an important part of our overall immigration program. These resolutions will enable us to continue our focus on hiring the best builders from both the U.S. and around the world and supporting our internal community of highly skilled visa holders who are seeking permanent residence.”