The Justice Department has filed charges against Facebook for allegedly discriminating against US workers in its hiring practices. The complaint, filed on Thursday, alleges that the company maintained a separate job listing process for visa-eligible job postings, both limiting the visibility of the job listing online and insisting that job seekers submit their applications by mail.
According to the Justice Department, the result was a systematic effort to discourage US workers from applying for an entire class of jobs at Facebook.
“Facebook’s discriminatory recruitment and hiring practice is routine, ongoing, and widespread,” the complaint reads. “It discriminates against U.S. workers because of their immigration or citizenship status, and it harms them by limiting their ability to apply, to be considered, and to be hired.”
In simple terms, prosecutors believe Facebook was hiding job listings reserved for visa-bound workers that the company had already contacted and knew it wanted to hire. But in its rush to clear the lane for its preferred applicant, the company allegedly violated important labor rules.
The Justice Department’s case focuses on permanent labor certifications at Facebook, which enable visa holders to work in the United States indefinitely (as opposed to guest worker visas like the H-1B that must be renewed every few years). US law requires an extensive process for permanent labor certification and approves applications only after a company attests that it could not find a qualified US worker for the position.
But when a guest worker at Facebook expressed interest in a permanent position, the complaint alleges, “Facebook diverged from its normal recruiting protocols by not advertising the position on its external website, Facebook.com/careers, by not accepting online applications, and by requiring interested applicants to apply to the position by mail.”
In one particularly strange note, the complaint notes that visa-linked job openings were listed in the print version of the San Francisco Chronicle but not the paper’s website, even though the Chronicle offers free online listing for every ad.
Prosecutors say the double standard has been in place since at least the beginning of 2018 and has yet to be remedied. Facebook received more than 2,600 permanent labor certifications for its employees during the named period.
Reached for comment, Facebook said it was cooperating with the Department of Justice but disagreed with its findings. “Facebook has been cooperating with the DOJ in its review of this issue,” a representative said, “and while we dispute the allegations in the complaint, we cannot comment further on pending litigation.”