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DOJ Accuses Facebook Of Offering High-Paying, White-Collar Jobs To Foreign Workers And Excluding Americans From Applying

Tensions between President Donald Trump and social media and online tech giants have been simmering for the last four years. As President-elect Joe Biden is set to take charge Jan. 20, it seems that Trump is going on the offensive before he leaves the White House.

The Department of Justice announced Thursday that it filed a lawsuit against Facebook for allegedly discriminating against U.S. workers. The Justice Department claims that Facebook “refused to recruit, consider or hire qualified and available U.S. workers for over 2,600 positions.” The government attorneys accused Facebook of reserving jobs for “temporary visa holders it sponsored for permanent work authorization (or ‘green cards’).” The jobs in question were high-end, white-collar roles that paid an average salary of approximately $156,000.

The two-year investigation asserts that the social media giant “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.”

Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division said, “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.” Dreiband further added, “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.” He specifically called out tech companies, admonishing, “You cannot illegally prefer to recruit, consider or hire temporary visa holders over U.S. workers.”

Facebook was further accused of neglecting to advertise those job openings on its careers website and required applicants to apply by physical mail only. According to the Justice Department, this system runs contrast to Facebook’s usual hiring process, which “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 legal team claims,”Facebook’s ineffective recruitment methods dissuaded U.S. workers from applying to its PERM positions.” The DOJ points to evidence that contends “during the relevant period, Facebook received zero or one U.S. worker applicants for 99.7% 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.” The Department Of Labor states that an employer must first show that there are no qualified U.S. workers available before the company offers the position to temporary visa holders.

It was also asserted that Facebook had a cold and ruthless reason for passing over Americans in favor of H1-B visa holders. “Temporary visa holders [have an] employment relationship that is not on equal terms [with the employer].” The DOJ claims that this practice “can expect more temporary visa holders to apply for positions and increased retention post-hire.” The lawyers maintain that H1-B visa holders often have limited job mobility and are likely to remain with the same company until they can adjust status, which could amount to decades.

Having a large supply of foreign tech talent, along with an inability for them to freely and easily switch jobs, Facebook’s policies result in creating a captive group of workers. The foreign workers would have limited mobility due to their visa status and could likely be paid less than a U.S. resident would earn.

Facebook denies the allegations. A corporate spokesperson said, “Facebook has been cooperating with the DOJ in its review of this issue and while we dispute the allegations in this complaint, we cannot comment further on pending litigation.”

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Originally published at https://www.forbes.com.

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