Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against Facebook for Discriminating Against U.S. Workers

Lawsuit Alleges Facebook Favors H-1B Visa Workers and Other Temporary Visa Holders over U.S. Workers

The Department of Justice announced today that it filed a lawsuit against Facebook Inc. for discriminating against U.S. workers. 

The lawsuit alleges that Facebook refused to recruit, consider, or hire qualified and available U.S. workers for over 2,600 positions that Facebook, instead, reserved for temporary visa holders it sponsored for permanent work authorization (or “green cards”) in connection with the permanent labor certification process (PERM). The positions that were the subject of Facebook’s alleged discrimination against U.S. 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 U.S. 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.   

“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 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. 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 U.S. workers.”

The department’s lawsuit alleges that beginning no later than Jan. 1, 2018 and lasting until at least Sept. 18, 2019, Facebook employed tactics that discriminated against U.S. workers and routinely preferred temporary visa holders (including H-1B visa holders) for jobs in connection with the PERM process. Rather than conducting a genuine search for qualified and available U.S. workers for permanent positions sought by these temporary visa holders, Facebook reserved the positions for temporary visa holders because of their immigration status, according to the complaint. The complaint also alleges that Facebook sought to channel jobs to temporary visa holders at the expense of U.S. workers by failing to advertise those vacancies on its careers website, requiring applicants to apply by physical mail only, and refusing to consider any U.S. workers who applied for those positions. 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, according to the lawsuit.

In its investigation, the department determined that Facebook’s ineffective recruitment methods dissuaded U.S. workers from applying to its PERM positions. The department concluded that, during the relevant period, Facebook received zero or one U.S. 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. These U.S. workers were denied an opportunity to be considered for the jobs Facebook sought to channel to temporary visa holders, according to the lawsuit. 

Not only do Facebook’s alleged practices discriminate against U.S. workers, they have adverse consequences on temporary visa holders by creating an employment relationship that is not on equal terms. An employer that engages in the practices alleged in the lawsuit against Facebook can expect more temporary visa holders to apply for positions and increased retention post-hire. Such temporary visa holders often have limited job mobility and thus are likely to remain with their company until they can adjust status, which for some can be decades.

The United States’ complaint seeks civil penalties, back pay on behalf of U.S. workers denied employment at Facebook due to the alleged discrimination in favor of temporary visa holders, and other relief to ensure Facebook stops the alleged violations in the future. According to the lawsuit, and based on the department’s nearly two-year investigation, Facebook’s discrimination against U.S. workers was intentional, widespread, and in violation of a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. § 1324b(a)(1), that the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division enforces. 

The PERM process is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor and allows employers to offer permanent positions to temporary visa holders by converting them to lawful permanent residents who may live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. However, the PERM process requires an employer to first demonstrate that there are no qualified and available U.S. workers for the position that the employer plans to offer to the temporary visa holder. The INA protects U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, refugees, asylees, and recent lawful permanent residents from citizenship status discrimination in hiring, firing, and recruitment or referral for a fee. Workers who fall outside of these categories are not protected from citizenship status discrimination under the INA.  

This lawsuit is filed as part of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division’s Protecting U.S. Workers Initiative, which was started in 2017 and is aimed at targeting, investigating, and taking enforcement actions against companies that discriminate against U.S. workers in favor of temporary visa holders. The Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) has reached numerous settlements under the Initiative, and employers have distributed or agreed to pay a combined total of more than $1.2 million in back pay to affected U.S. workers and civil penalties to the United States.  These settlements involve employers that discriminated in their use of H-1BH-2A, H-2B, and F-1 visas.

IER is responsible for enforcing the anti-discrimination provision of the INA.  The statute prohibits citizenship status and national origin discrimination in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee; unfair documentary practices; and retaliation and intimidation.   

Learn more about IER’s work and how to get assistance through this brief video. Applicants or employees who believe they were discriminated against based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin in hiring, firing, recruitment, or during the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9 and E-Verify); or subjected to retaliation, can file a charge. The public also can contact IER’s worker hotline at 1-800-255-7688; call IER’s employer hotline at 1-800-255-8155 (1-800-237-2515, TTY for hearing impaired); email IER@usdoj.govsign up for a free webinar; or visit IER’s English and Spanish websites.  Subscribe to GovDelivery to receive updates from IER.

Members of the public can also report possible civil rights violations through the Civil Rights Division’s reporting portal.

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    Attorney General William P. Barr today directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to schedule the executions of two federal death-row inmates, both of whom were convicted of especially heinous murders at least 13 years ago.
    [Read More…]
  • New York City Restaurateur Sentenced to Jail For Tax Evasion Scheme
    In Crime News
    A New York City restaurateur was sentenced to prison for a tax evasion scheme.
    [Read More…]
  • Seven Charged in Connection with a COVID-Relief Fraud Scheme Involving more than 80 Fraudulent Loan Applications Worth Approximately $16 Million
    In Crime News
    Seven individuals across two states were charged in an indictment unsealed today for their alleged participation in a scheme to obtain approximately $16 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
    [Read More…]
  • Ukraine Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Senegal Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel to [Read More…]
  • Papua New Guinea Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Reconsider travel [Read More…]
  • ‘All too frequent tragedies demand action to improve judicial security,’ Judge tells Judicial Conference
    In U.S Courts
    “Four federal judges and three family members have been killed since 1979. These horrific tragedies must stop,” Judge David W. McKeague told the Judicial Conference of the United States today.
    [Read More…]
  • U.S. Law Enforcement Assists Brazilian Law Enforcement Takedown of Numerous Digital Piracy Sites and Apps Alleged to Have Caused Millions of Dollars in Losses to U.S. Media Companies
    In Crime News
    Seizure warrants have been executed against three domain names of commercial websites engaged in the illegal reproduction and distribution of copyrighted works in support of a Brazilian-led takedown of digital piracy sites there, dubbed “Operation 404”.
    [Read More…]
  • FY 2020 Request for Concept Notes for NGO Programs Benefiting Refugees, Displaced Iraqis, and Other Vulnerable Populations in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey
    In Human Health, Resources and Services
    Bureau of Population, [Read More…]
  • The Justice Department Unveils Proposed Section 230 Legislation
    In Crime News
    Today, on behalf of the [Read More…]
  • Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With David Rubenstein of Bloomberg News
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Guy Benson of The Guy Benson Show
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • NASA’s ASTER Sees Arizona’s Bighorn Fire Burn Scar From Space
    In Space
    From the vantage point [Read More…]