Facebook employees relax with a game of table tennis on campus.
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The Justice Department has sued Facebook, claiming it discriminated against US workers by reserving jobs for temporary visa holders, the agency said Thursday.
The DOJ claimed Facebook failed to consider “skilled and available US workers” for more than 2,600 jobs with an average salary of about $ 156,000.
“Facebook purposely created a hiring system that denied qualified US workers a fair opportunity to learn about and advertise jobs that Facebook instead wanted to refer to temporary visa holders who Facebook wanted to sponsor green cards,” the said Department in their press release.
A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement that the company “worked with the DOJ to investigate this issue and, while we deny the allegations in the complaint, we cannot comment on any pending litigation.”
The DOJ alleged Facebook used tactics that discriminated against US workers from January 1, 2018 and until at least September 18 last year. Those tactics included not posting any vacancies on their careers website and refusing to consider U.S. workers for those roles, the DOJ claimed.
“Our message to workers is clear: if companies deny job opportunities by temporarily favoring temporary visa holders, the Department of Justice will hold them accountable,” said Eric S. Dreiband, director of the DOJ’s civil rights division, in a statement. “Our message to all employers – including those in the technology sector – is clear: You cannot illegally prefer to hire, consider, or hire temporary US visa holders.”
The DOJ said Facebook’s alleged behavior is also detrimental to temporary visa holders by creating an unequal employment relationship as the worker relies on their employment to maintain their immigrant status.
The DOJ said in a press release that the lawsuit followed an “almost two-year investigation.” The department has been following a comprehensive review of the tech industry since last year and most recently filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google in October. Facebook is currently under investigation for possible antitrust violations by a group of attorneys general expected to file lawsuits next week and by the Federal Trade Commission.
However, Thursday’s lawsuit deals with a matter separate from antitrust concerns. Tech companies have been at the forefront of many struggles over immigration reform, particularly for H1-B visas, a high-level visa used by many tech workers. The Trump administration has tried to reduce some of these protections.
The DOJ seeks civil sanctions, back payments for domestic workers who are allegedly denied employment, and other facilities to prevent future discrimination. However, with a new democratic government taking office in January, the shape of the case could change.
WATCH: The Justice Department is suing Facebook for allegedly discriminating against US workers