On December 3, 2020, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it had filed a lawsuit against Facebook Inc., alleging discrimination against U.S. workers. This lawsuit, construed as a new push against tech companies by the administration, alleged that Facebook reserved positions for skilled workers with temporary work visas.
Discrimination Complaint Against Facebook
The DOJ alleged in the complaint that Facebook “refused to recruit, consider or hire qualified and available U.S. workers” for over 2,600 positions offering an average salary of $156,000. The complaint alleged that those jobs went to immigrant visa holders. “The 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 Assistant Attorney General Eric S. Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division.
According to the complaint, the DOJ found that between January 1, 2018, and September 18, 2019, Facebook routinely placed H1-B and other immigrant temporary workers on the path for permanent employment. The complaint alleged that Facebook failed to post the available job positions on its website. “Facebook’s discriminatory recruitment and hiring practice is routine, ongoing and widespread,” the complaint said. The discrimination suit will be heard by an administrative law judge.
As a part of the application process, companies that sponsor immigrant workers for employment-based green cards are required to show that they did not find any qualified and available U.S. workers to fill the job. If a qualified applicant is found, the company is required to interview that person and with that, the green card process will be stopped.
Reactions to the Lawsuit
“Our message to workers is clear: If companies deny employment opportunities by illegally preferring temporary visa holders, the DOJ will hold them accountable,” said Dreiband. “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.”
Skilled immigrant workers in the technology industry have been targets of the administration for a long time now. Big tech companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, IBM, etc., have been favoring H1-B visa holders. Tech companies hold the stance that the best talent of engineers come from overseas and is the only way for the companies to fill the gap for the talent required. On the other hand, critics assert that the skilled work visa program overlooks U.S. workers and lures immigrant workers at lower wages.
This lawsuit has sent chills to many companies that hire skilled immigrant workers. Employers fear that this practice will render every employer vulnerable to charges of discrimination.