Facebook accused by Trump administration of favoring H-1B workers


Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook was hit Thursday with a lawsuit from the Trump administration that alleges the social media giant favored hiring immigrant workers with temporary work visas over US workers for high-paying jobs.

From at least January 2018 to at least September 2019, Facebook illegally set aside more than 2,600 positions for temporary visa holders as the company applied to sponsor the workers for permanent residency, according to the lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice. These jobs had an average salary of roughly $156,000, the DOJ said.

The lawsuit highlights the Trump administration’s increased scrutiny of a temporary work visa, known as the H-1B visa, used by tech companies to hire highly skilled immigrant workers. Facebook has also been facing more pressure from lawmakers and regulators who’ve accused the companies of engaging in anticompetitive business practices and failing to combat misinformation.

“Our message to all employers — including those in the technology sector — is clear: you cannot illegally prefer to recruit, consider, or hire temporary visa holders over US workers,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the DOJ’s civil rights division said in a statement.

Facebook denied the allegations in a statement.

“Facebook has been cooperating with the DOJ in its review of this issue and while we dispute the allegations in the complaint, we cannot comment further on pending litigation,” a Facebook spokeswoman said.

In the 17-page complaint, the DOJ alleges that Facebook created for thousands of jobs a recruitment process that deterred US workers from applying. According to the lawsuit, the social network didn’t advertise the jobs allegedly reserved for immigrant workers on its website, required mail-in job applications and didn’t consider US workers for the positions. 

The DOJ said it’s been investigating Facebook for nearly two years. The lawsuit, which accuses Facebook of violating a federal immigration law, asks a judge to order the company to pay back-pay to US workers who were denied a job because of the alleged discrimination, stop the alleged illegal hiring practices and pay civil penalties.

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