Facebook Agrees to Pay Over $14 Million in Settlement Over Discrimination Against Workers

Posted by Ryan Callahan.

An article published on October 19 by the Wall Street Journal, talks about how Facebook agreed to pay penalties of over $14 million due to findings by the Justice Department that Facebook’s hiring practices purposely discriminated against U.S workers in favor of foreign workers. In addition, Facebook agreed in a settlement with the Labor Department to do more to recruit U.S. workers for technology related jobs and to be subject to federal scrutiny for up to three years. These agreements came after Facebook was sued by the Justice Department in December for allegedly failing to advertise around 2,600 jobs properly and consider applications from U.S. citizens. These jobs were offered to foreign workers the company was sponsoring for green cards to grant permanent residency in 2018 and 2019. The lawsuit stated that Facebook’s practices violated federal laws that require employers to demonstrate that there are no U.S. workers available that are qualified before offering positions to foreign workers they are sponsoring. As a result, Facebook has agreed to pay up to $9.5 million to the eligible victims of the alleged discrimination and a civil penalty of $4.75 million to the U.S government. The Justice Department will work with the company to determine possible victims, but at the time it was said to be too early to know how many people are eligible for damages. 

As a part of the settlement, Facebook has agreed to train employees on federal anti-discrimination requirements and to have their petitions for temporary visa holders audited by the Labor Department for the next three years. In a statement, Facebook said that they believe they met the standards of the federal government under federal law, but they agreed to settle the case so they can put this behind them and move forward. Facebook also said that the settlements with the federal government “will enable us to continue our focus on hiring the best builders from both the U.S. and around the world, and supporting our international community of highly skilled visa holders who are seeking permanent residence” (Nakamura and Zakrzewski). The settlement reflects the growing focus among Democrats to regulate big tech firms. This is seen in the nomination of large tech critics into key administration positions. For years, Facebook has tried to increase the ranks of high-skilled foreign laborers in the U.S. to power its highly technological operations, including programs such as the H-1B visa. The Justice Department said that Facebook changed its traditional hiring process when they wanted to hire an employee on an H-1B visa for a permanent position. Federal law generally allows a company to sponsor a temporary worker for a permanent position only when there is no qualified U.S. applicant. The lawsuit found that if a U.S. worker applied for one of the jobs, and Facebook determined they were qualified, the company appeared to hire them in a different capacity. 

Times are changing and the government is cracking down on big tech firms. The Democrats are concerned with the power the big tech firms have and want to control it. By penalizing Facebook with more than more than $14 million in fines, the government is sending a message to big tech firms that they will be scrutinized for their business practices. The agreements came after Facebook was sued by the Justice Department for allegedly failing to advertise jobs properly and consider applications from U.S. citizens before the spots were offered to foreign workers. At the time the article was written, it was too early to determine the possible victims, but the Justice department is working to figure that out. As a result, Facebook agreed to do more to recruit U.S. workers for technology related jobs. Although the fine is a small one compared to Facebook’s worth, it has sent a strong message to all big tech firms.

Ryan is a sports management major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2024.

Article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/facebook-discrimination-settlement/2021/10/19/7d7f4b34-30f6-11ec-a1e5-07223c50280a_story.html