Facebook Pays $4.75M Fine 10/20 07:25
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Facebook is paying a $4.75 million fine and up to $9.5
million to eligible victims to resolve the Justice Department's allegations
that it discriminated against U.S. workers in favor of foreigners with special
visas to fill high-paying jobs.
Facebook also agreed in the settlement announced Tuesday to train its
employees in anti-discrimination rules and to conduct more widespread
advertising and recruitment for job opportunities in its permanent labor
certification program, which allows an employer to hire a foreign worker to
The department's civil rights division said the social network giant
"routinely refused" to recruit, consider or hire U.S. workers, a group that
includes U.S. citizens and nationals, people granted asylum, refugees and
lawful permanent residents, for positions it had reserved for temporary visa
Facebook sponsored the visa holders for "green cards" authorizing them to
work permanently. The so-called H-1B visas are a staple of Silicon Valley,
widely used by software programmers and other employees of major U.S.
Critics of the practice contend that the foreign nationals will work for
lower wages than U.S. citizens. The tech companies maintain that's not the
case, that they turn to foreign nationals because they have trouble finding
qualified programmers and other engineers who are U.S. citizens.
"In principle, Facebook is doing a good thing by applying for green cards
for its workers, but it has also learned how to game the system to avoid hiring
U.S. tech workers," said Daniel Costa, director of immigration law and policy
research at the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute. "Facebook started
lobbying to change the system more to its liking starting back in 2013 when the
comprehensive immigration bill that passed the Senate was being negotiated."
The settlement terms announced Tuesday are the largest civil penalty and
back-pay award ever recovered by the civil rights division in the 35-year
history of enforcing anti-discrimination rules under the Immigration and
Nationality Act, officials said. The back pay would be awarded to people deemed
to have been unfairly denied employment.
The government said Facebook intentionally created a hiring system in which
it denied qualified U.S. workers a fair opportunity to learn about and apply
for jobs that it instead sought to channel to temporary visa holders.
"Facebook is not above the law and must comply with our nation's federal
civil rights laws, which prohibit discriminatory recruitment and hiring
practices," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke told reporters in a
telephone conference. "Companies cannot set aside certain positions for
temporary visa holders because of their citizenship or immigration status."
Facebook also agreed in a separate settlement with the Labor Department to
expand its recruitment for U.S. workers and to be subject to ongoing audits to
The company based in Menlo Park, California, said it believes it met the
government's standards in its practices. It said it agreed to the settlements
to end the litigation and move ahead with its permanent labor certification
program --- which it called an important part of its "overall immigration
"These resolutions will enable us to continue our focus on hiring the best
builders from both the U.S. and around the world, and supporting our internal
community of highly skilled visa holders who are seeking permanent residence,"
Facebook said in a statement.
Facebook says it ended the April-June quarter this year with over 63,400
full-time employees globally and has 3,000 current job openings.
The lawsuit was filed against Facebook last December by the Justice
Department under the Trump administration. The alleged violations are said to
have occurred from at least Jan. 1, 2018 to at least Sept. 18, 2019.
A $4.75 million fine and $9.5 million in back pay are a trifle for a company
valued at $1 trillion with revenue of nearly $86 billion last year. But the
announcement comes at a time of intense public discomfort and scrutiny for
Public allegations and testimony to Congress from a former Facebook data
scientist that the company disregarded internal research showing harm to
children have raised a public outcry and calls for stricter government
oversight of the company. The former employee, Frances Haugen, accused Facebook
of prioritizing profit over safety and being dishonest in its public fight
against hate and misinformation.
The company is also awaiting a federal judge's ruling in an epic antitrust
suit filed against it by the Federal Trade Commission. Calls from critics and
lawmakers of both parties to break up the behemoth company are intensifying.