Enlarge /. Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg.
The US Department of Justice sued Facebook Thursday on the grounds that the social media giant had discriminated against US workers by giving preference to Facebook employees with H-1B visas who wanted to switch to permanent positions with the company.
The H-1B Visa program allows foreign workers to work for a US company for three years. It can be renewed once. Thereafter, an employer can ask for permission to offer the immigrant a permanent position under the Department of Labor's PERM certification program. But the employer should apply for the job first to see if Americans are available. Only if no qualified Americans apply can the job go to the immigrant.
In its lawsuit, the Justice Department argues that Facebook's hiring practices mocked these requirements. Most Facebook jobs are posted online, and job seekers can apply online. In contrast, Facebook placed its legally required ads for PERM jobs mainly in print publications. Applicants had to submit their applications by post.
These jobs had an average salary of more than $ 156,000. Of the 1,128 positions advertised between July 2018 and April 2019, 81 percent did not receive a single applicant, while a further 18 percent only received one applicant.
"When a US worker applied for a PERM-related position and Facebook determined that the US worker was qualified but no non-PERM-related position was available for the US worker, Facebook's standard operating procedure was to hire of the US worker to decline for the PERM-related position and to temporarily cancel or suspend the PERM process, "the Justice Department wrote in its complaint.
"Another qualified candidate"
For example, in September 2018 Facebook tried to get a permanent position for an art director who had worked for Facebook on an H-1B visa. Facebook claimed it posted the job for a month with no interest from US workers. However, the DOJ notes that in early 2018 Facebook posted 22 vacancies for other art director jobs – many with more demanding qualifications. The company received more than 2,600 applications for these jobs.
"Facebook did not recruit at least 288 applicants for these art director positions because, although they were not unqualified, there was one other qualified candidate," the DOJ wrote.
The government argues that Facebook was required by law to give one of the 288 American applicants a job instead of hiring the H-1B employee.
Overall, the government stated that between 2018 and 2019 there were more than 4,000 American workers who applied to Facebook and failed to get them – despite apparently qualifying for one of 2,600 jobs that Facebook H-1B wanted to offer to visa holders in the same Period.
The government argues that Facebook's hiring practices are illegal discrimination against US workers. She is calling on the courts to order Facebook to revise its hiring practices, pay a fine and reimburse workers who have been illegally denied jobs – a potentially large sum given the number of job seekers involved.