Facebook to pay $14.25 million to settle claims it favoured H1-B visa holders
The United States Justice Department had in December last year sued the social media firm on the grounds that it had declined to “recruit, consider or hire” qualified American workers for thousands of positions. Instead, it said those jobs had been given to foreign workers holding temporary work visas.
The Menlo Park, California-based company is among the top applicants for the H-1B visa program and the Permanent Labor Certification Program (PERM) where it sponsors green cards, or permanent residency permits for employees.
The agreement with the Justice Department included payments of $4.75 million to the US government and as much as $9.5 million to “eligible victims of Facebook’s alleged discrimination”, the Justice department said in a statement.
According to the lawsuit, Facebook refused to recruit, consider, or hire qualified and available US workers for over 2,600 positions that the firm instead reserved for temporary visa holders. The positions that were the subject of the alleged discrimination offered an average salary of approximately $156,000.
According to the lawsuit, which was based on the department’s nearly two-year investigation, Facebook intentionally created a hiring system in which it denied qualified US workers a fair opportunity to learn about and apply for jobs. Instead, these were channeled to employees who Facebook wanted to sponsor for green cards.
The agency said that the combined settlement is the largest ever collected by the agency’s civil rights division for violations of the anti-discrimination provision in the Immigration and Nationality Act. The company also separately settled concerns raised by the US Labor Department this year over whether it had violated labour regulations.
The lawsuit was filed towards the end of former US President Donald Trump’s tenure, who had cracked down on the H-1B visa process, making it more stringent in a bid to protect jobs for US workers. Most tech companies had voiced their concerns that this was impacting their ability to do business, given the lack of high-skilled tech talent available domestically.