WASHINGTON (CN) — The Department of Justice brought a complaint Thursday claiming Facebook has discriminated against American workers vying for thousands of available jobs with the social media giant by reserving openings for temporary visa holders.
The 17-page administrative complaint alleges the Menlo Park, California-based company violated federal law that requires U.S. employers to hire qualified American candidates before considering temporary foreign workers it might otherwise sponsor.
“Facebook’s discriminatory recruitment and hiring practice is routine, ongoing and widespread,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband wrote Thursday in the complaint filed in the department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review.
From January 2018 to September 2019, the federal government claims Facebook developed a workaround to longstanding antidiscrimination laws.
Generally speaking, Facebook uses a competitive process to hire people for positions that receive hundreds of applications. But when employees with temporary visas ask to stay on permanently, the company allegedly creates permanent positions open only to temporary workers instead of seeking candidates who are American citizens.
“Facebook does not advertise these positions on its website, does not accept applications online and requires candidates to mail in their applications. Not surprisingly, Facebook often gets zero applications for these advertised positions,” the complaint states. “And even when U.S. workers do apply, Facebook will not consider them for the advertised positions.”
The government asserts this type of hiring process violates the Department of Labor’s mandatory recruitment methods for U.S. workers, which requires a posting for the position on a state workforce agency job board, posting a notice internally and advertising in a major publication at least twice.
The complaint says Facebook could have used job fairs, placed ads online or advertised through trade groups or on college campuses when it sought to fill permanent positions.
A spokesperson for Facebook said Thursday the company disputes the government’s complaint but is cooperating with a review of its hiring practices.
Dreiband, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement that companies will be held accountable for denying job opportunities “by illegally preferring temporary visa holders.”
“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,” he said.
The Justice Department seeks back pay for domestic workers it claims were injured by Facebook’s hiring practices and injunctive relief ordering the company to cease and desist its allegedly discriminatory scheme.
Bipartisan rancor in Washington has been hot and heavy around Facebook for years with CEO like Mark Zuckerberg hauled before Congress several times. Most recently, Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey appeared before senators in a contentious committee hearing where misinformation run amok on both platforms was the focus of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s ire.