THE US government has filed a lawsuit against Facebook for discriminating American workers and favouring H-1B visa holders.
The Justice department has alleged that Facebook refused to recruit, consider or hire qualified and available US workers for over 2,600 positions and instead, reserved for temporary visa holders it sponsored for permanent work authorisation (or green cards) in connection with the permanent labour certification process (PERM).
The PERM process requires an employer to first demonstrate that there are no qualified and available US workers for the position that the employer plans to offer to the temporary visa holder.
The positions that were the subject of Facebook’s alleged discrimination against US workers offered an average salary of around $156,000.
The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise. Most of the nearly 600,000 H-1B visa holders are from India and China.
“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 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.”
According to the complaint, between January 1, 2018 and September 18, 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.
The lawsuit seeks civil penalties, back pay on behalf of US workers denied employment at Facebook due to the alleged discrimination in favour of temporary visa holders, and other relief to ensure the company stops the alleged violations in the future.
“We hav 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,” Facebook said in a statement.
In June, the Trump administration extended a ban on green cards issued outside the US until the end of the year and froze many temporary work visas.
Recently, a US court blocked two H-1B regulations proposed by the Trump administration to restrict the ability of American companies to hire foreign employees.